The Ghost Armchair, an embodiment of audacious design, seemingly as light as air, is a product of creative genius and innovative craftsmanship by Cini Boeri and Tomu Katayanagi. Despite its substantial weight, this piece of furniture appears almost ethereal due to its construction from a single solid glass sheet. This daring design was brought to life by Fiam, one of Italy’s few truly innovative companies founded by Vittorio Livi in 1973.
The Role of Fiam in Revolutionizing Furniture Design
Fiam made a name for itself in the subsequent decade thanks to a table called Ragno – the first ever piece of furniture created from a single bent glass piece. Over the years, Fiam perfected this production technique until 1987. Boeri and Katayanagi added the poetic depth it needed with the Ghost armchair.
The Creative Minds Behind the Ghost Armchair
Cini Boeri, a Milanese designer and architect, had already developed several ideas for Fiam when Tomu Katayanagi, one of the company’s senior designers, suggested creating an armchair. At first, Boeri was against the idea, stating, “Glass is cold and gives a feeling of fragility. It does not guarantee comfort, and an armchair, on the other hand, must offer warmth, comfort, and security”. However, after seeing Katayanagi’s magical paper shapes, she became open to the idea and was eager to see if a glass armchair could indeed be realized.
The Technical Challenges and Triumph
With Livi’s assistance, they overcame the technical challenges, and the chair has since become an avant-garde design icon. Remarkably, the Ghost Armchair can accommodate up to 150 kg, even though the glass sheet is only 12 mm thick. Fiam continues to produce Ghost chairs, heating large glass sheets in specially built furnaces before shaping them.
The Legacy of the Ghost Armchair
Numerous designers, including Philippe Starck, Vico Magistretti, and Ron Arad, have collaborated with Fiam, but few have matched the astonishing and surreal impact achieved by Boeri and Katayanagi with their “ghost” chair. In 2022, after 35 years of recognition-filled life, the Ghost armchair, designed by Cini Boeri with Tomu Katayanagi and produced by FIAM Italia, also received the coveted Compasso d’Oro in a new category honoring “product careers.”
A Symbol of Sustainable Development
The Ghost Armchair reflects the three undeniable values of the XXVII edition of the Compasso d’Oro 2022: “Development, Sustainable, Responsible.” This award represents the evolution of an idea that uses technical progress and technological innovation as tools for functional and aesthetic purposes. Sustainability comes from using glass – a natural and millennia-old material that is among the most recyclable and regenerable materials ever. The experiment with new technologies reflects responsibility, as it involves using resins, carbon, metals, cardboard, fabrics, and glass.
Bruno Munari’s Interpretation of the Ghost Armchair
Bruno Munari once encapsulated the essence of the Ghost chair, stating that it “seems like the petrification of a water ribbon, almost like the abstract solidification of an idea where technology can rhyme with poetry.” This remarkable blend of imagination and realism is the reason why the Ghost Armchair has been featured by top professionals in prestigious contexts such as Expo Japan, the ADI Design Museum – Compasso d’Oro, and the Triennale di Milano, among many other international art and design museums.
The Ghost Armchair: A Timeless Classic
The Ghost Armchair’s complex production has prevented imitation, making it a contemporary piece in design language. Its modernity has elevated it to a classic, making it timeless. This speaks volumes about the enduring success of the Ghost Armchair, a testament to Italian design’s past, present, and future.
In conclusion, the Ghost Armchair by Cini Boeri, encapsulates a daring design, innovative technology, and sustainable ethos, making it a true masterpiece in furniture design.