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Not currently on display at the V&A

Universale

Chair
1965 - 1967 (designed), 1968 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The 'Universale' was the first all-plastic chair to be made by the injection-moulding technique. It was also one of the earliest plastic chairs to be commercially available. The Italian manufacturer, Kartell, was an innovative firm whose main production was plastic laboratory and industrial wares. They marketed the 'Universale' as a multi-functional chair that was stackable, portable, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The design included detachable feet, which allowed the height of the chair to be adjusted. The structure was based on a child's chair, which Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper had designed earlier for Kartell.
The 'Universale' is typical of Pop design, which used bold pattern, bright colour and new shapes and was specifically aimed at a young market. Plastic, previously seen as 'cheap and cheerful', became a fashionable and novel material.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Injection-moulded ABS plastic
Dimensions
  • Height: 72.5cm
  • Width: 43.5cm
  • Depth: 43.5cm
  • Seat height: 43.5cm
Style
Copy Number
Model 4867
Marks and Inscriptions
Kartell BINASCO (MILANO)/860 e 861I5 MADE IN ITALY/DESIGN - Prof. Joe COlombo
Gallery Label
CHAIR: UNIVERSALE 4860 Designed by Joe Colombo (Italian, 1930-1971), 1965 Made by Kartell, Milan, Italy from 1967; still in production Injection-moulded ABS plastic Circ.887-1968 This was the first all-plastic chair made by injection moulding. It was produced in five colours, with legs of varying length to allow its adaption to environments as diverse as bars and nurseries. Its brightness and flexibility were in tune with youth fashions in the booming 1960s. It cost £8. 18s. 0d. in 1968.(1992)
Credit line
Purchased from Conran Contracts Ltd, London
Summary
The 'Universale' was the first all-plastic chair to be made by the injection-moulding technique. It was also one of the earliest plastic chairs to be commercially available. The Italian manufacturer, Kartell, was an innovative firm whose main production was plastic laboratory and industrial wares. They marketed the 'Universale' as a multi-functional chair that was stackable, portable, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The design included detachable feet, which allowed the height of the chair to be adjusted. The structure was based on a child's chair, which Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper had designed earlier for Kartell.

The 'Universale' is typical of Pop design, which used bold pattern, bright colour and new shapes and was specifically aimed at a young market. Plastic, previously seen as 'cheap and cheerful', became a fashionable and novel material.
Bibliographic References
  • Wilk, Christopher, ed. . Western Furniture 1350 to the Present Day. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996. 230p., ill. ISBN 085667463X.
  • 'Plastic Chair, a Design and Manufacturing Challenge'. In: Material Culture and the Culture of Materials, Augusto Morello, Milan, 1988, pp.138 f
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.887-1968

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record createdNovember 28, 2002
Record URL