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Chair

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1972 (designed)
    1970s (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Decurso, Giorgio (designer)
    de Pas, Jonathan, born 1932 - died 1991
    D'Urbino, Donato, born 1935 (designer)
    Lomazzi, Paolo, born 1939 (designer)
    BBB Bonacina (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    ABS plastic or polypropylene

  • Museum number:

    B.9:1 to 4-2014

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

One of a set of twelve Junior (also called Chica) chairs in red and yellow plastic, each one comprised of four modular components that can be dismantled and rebuilt into creative play spaces. Three of the parts are identical and interchangeable as the chair legs and chair back. The lightweight construction enables older children to take creative control and reconfigure the chairs into dens, screens or any play space they wish; so it's both furniture and building game.

The chairs were designed by Giorgio Decurso, Jonathan De Pas, Donato D'Urbino and Paolo Lomazzi; Milanese designers who trained as architects and who embraced the post war spirit of optimism to create fun and flexible pieces of modern design. The chairs were produced in four colours: red, yellow, blue and white.

Children's furniture acquired a new status in the 1960s and 1970s when lightweight, colourful, durable and easily washable plastics provided designers with the ideal material out of which to make innovative child-friendly furniture. The modular designs and multi-use assemblages of this period addressed the notion of removing adult preconceptions of what child's play should be, instead handing control to the child.

Physical description

Red plastic chair constructed from four parts: the seat and three identical parts which are interchangeable as the chair legs and chair back.
The three identical leg/back parts are made of two, tubular legs with a rail between them which, when the chair is constructed, forms either the side rail or chair back depending on where the part is placed. The rail is angled slightly to provide comfortable back support for the sitter. The legs are tapered so can nest into each other or into any of the four holes on the seat base, providing varied building possibilities. At the top of each leg tube there is a 2cm groove.
The seat has a shallow indentation and a downward curved lip at the front. There are four circular holes, one in each corner of the seat, with 6cm tubes extending down from the holes, underneath the seat. These short tubes fit inside the top of the tubular leg pieces when the chair is constructed.

Place of Origin

Italy (manufactured)

Date

1972 (designed)
1970s (manufactured)

Artist/maker

Decurso, Giorgio (designer)
de Pas, Jonathan, born 1932 - died 1991
D'Urbino, Donato, born 1935 (designer)
Lomazzi, Paolo, born 1939 (designer)
BBB Bonacina (designer)

Materials and Techniques

ABS plastic or polypropylene

Marks and inscriptions

'design: DECURSU DE PAS D'URBINO LOMAZZI
brev. n° 865770'
Embossed plastic inscription on the underneath of chair seat

Dimensions

Height: 50 cm whole chair, Width: 30.3 cm whole chair, Depth: 33 cm whole chair, Height: 29 cm seat, Width: 30.3 cm seat, Depth: 33 cm seat, Height: 6.5 cm seat, Height: 28.2 cm legs/back, Width: 29.3 cm legs/back, Depth: 5.5 cm legs/back

Object history note

This chair is one of a set of twelve red and yellow plastic chairs which were part of a group of objects purchased from a sale 'Design for Kids' at the auction house Tajan in Paris. The sale was dedicated to the collection of post war children's furniture belonging to German furniture collector and design gallery owner, Dr Stefan Reinke. His collection has also appeared in the exhibition and publication 'Fidgety Philip! A Design History of Children's Furniture' shown at the Imperial Furniture Collection in Vienna and MARTa in Herford, Germany in 2006/7.

In text written by Dr Reinke, for the Tajan sale catalogue in 2014, he explained his reasons behind starting to collect children's designed furniture: "Of course my three sons inspired me but also the fact that this beautiful theme was almost ignored 20 years ago. However, this also had advantages for me: the pieces of interest were still available and their size allowed me to store them without problems. First, I brought home everything that attracted me. The strong use of colours and unusual, often experimental forms in vintage children's furniture and play objects was fascinating. In contrast to toy collectors, only large pieces interested me. Soon I realised that the kids' versions of architect designed pieces were normally much more rare than the respective editions for adults. In the early days of collecting it was evident that information such as designers, makers and the time of origin was important but only a few books existed."

Dr Reinke collected over 300 objects, a great number of which were chairs and seating. For him "The design history may be illustrated very well with children's chairs, since many important designers made these for kids...The most impressive part of my collection were the designers themselves."

Dr Reinke felt that a pivotal moment in the history of children's designed furniture came at the beginning of the 20th century when "the progressive educational movement emphasised the special demands of children." Up until this point the principle of children's furniture design had, for the most part, been the downscaling of large furniture. Dr Reinke wrote: "The striking role of children's furniture in the history of design becomes evident by its role as an experimental field for prototypes and innovations. Many things are easier to test in the small scale."

(Quotes taken from text written by Dr Stefan Reinke in the Tajan sale catalogue, 2014)

'The beginnings of children's furniture as design objects can be retraced very accurately: In 1866 a page in the catalogue of the bentwood furniture manufacturers Gebrüder Thonet offered for the first time serially produced furniture that was specifically designed for children. After 1900, furniture for children became an interesting task for modernist architects and interior designers...and...after the First World War, furniture for kindergartens and classrooms became an important and socially motivated designing task.'

(Edited text from 'Fidgety Philip! A Design History of Children's Furniture' by Eva B. Ottillinger)

Descriptive line

Junior '4 Knock Down' chair, red plastic, designed by Giorgio Decurso, Jonathan De Pas, Donato D'Urbino and Paolo Lomazzi, 1972, manufactured by BBB Bonacina, Italy, 1970s

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Sale catalogue for Collection of Stefan Reinke
Wednesday 5 March 2014
Espace Tajan, 37 rue des Mathurins 75008, Paris

p57
Tajan Design for Kids Catalogue
Mobilier Design Pour Enfants by Carole Daprey, published by l'as de pique, 2009
pp130-131
Ottillinger, Eva B. (ed.) 'Fidgety Philip! A Design History of Children's Furniture'
Catalogue published by Bohlau, 2006
pp156-157
A set of these chairs is held by Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (museum no. FNAC 03-436.1-4)

Materials

Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymer; Polypropylene

Techniques

Moulding

Categories

Children & Childhood; Furniture; Toys & Games; Product design

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Museum of Childhood

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