Model 4801 thumbnail 1
Model 4801 thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Furniture, Room 135, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery

Model 4801

Chair
1963 (designed), 1964-70 (Manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

At first glance the glossy surface and bright colour might make you think this chair is made of plastic, especially since both the designer and the manufacturer are well-known for their 1960s plastic furniture. In fact, the chair is made of just three bent and pressed plywood elements simply slotted together. Any sense of the material as wood is obliterated by the coat of polyester varnish, making it appear entirely synthetic.

Kartell was founded by Giulio Castelli, a chemical engineer, in 1949 and was at the forefront of plastics technology. In 1964 Kartell first produced this chair and the first all-plastic chair, also designed by Colombo. This chair, therefore, sits at the cusp of the shift away from plywood (the material-of-choice for advanced designers since the 1930s) towards the new plastics. In this chair, the old technology is masquerading as the new technique.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Moulded plywood with pigmented polyester varnish, rubber spacers
Brief Description
Chair, model 4801, designed by Joe Colombo, 1963, manufactured by Kartell, Italy, 1964-70, bent and pressed plywood, orange polyester varnish
Physical Description
Chair formed from three bent and pressed plywood elements slotted together using rubber spacers. The whole is painted with orange polyester varnish during a highly industrialised process requiring the combined spraying of a catalyst and the pigmented polyester which mix at the nozzle. The finish is then buffed when dry.

Dimensions
  • Height: 58.2cm
  • Width: 72cm
  • Depth: 65.7cm
  • Seat height: 34cm
Dimensions taken from register and Modern Chairs catalogue Checked Jana Scholze 28.1.10
Style
Gallery Label
  • CHAIR, model 4801 Designed by Joe Colombo (Italian, 1930-1971), 1963 Manufactured by Kartell, Milan, Italy Moulded plywood with polyester varnish 1964 The chair is comprised of three elements which slot together, requiring no fixing. Circ.214-1970(1989-2006)
  • Armchair, model 4801 1963 Joe Colombo (1930–71) Italy Manufactured 1964–70 by Kartell, Milan Moulded plywood with pigmented polyester varnish (probably original) Spacers: rubber Museum no. Circ.214-1970 What appears here to be moulded plastic is in fact bent plywood with a sprayed polyester varnish. At this period, plastic was gradually replacing wood for mass-produced seating, so the chair is a witty reversal of general practice. Spray painting using a compressor was commonly used on furniture, both wood- and metal-framed, after 1945. (01/12/2012)
Summary
At first glance the glossy surface and bright colour might make you think this chair is made of plastic, especially since both the designer and the manufacturer are well-known for their 1960s plastic furniture. In fact, the chair is made of just three bent and pressed plywood elements simply slotted together. Any sense of the material as wood is obliterated by the coat of polyester varnish, making it appear entirely synthetic.



Kartell was founded by Giulio Castelli, a chemical engineer, in 1949 and was at the forefront of plastics technology. In 1964 Kartell first produced this chair and the first all-plastic chair, also designed by Colombo. This chair, therefore, sits at the cusp of the shift away from plywood (the material-of-choice for advanced designers since the 1930s) towards the new plastics. In this chair, the old technology is masquerading as the new technique.
Bibliographic Reference
Modern chairs 1918-1970, London, Lund Humphries, 1971
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.214-1970

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record createdApril 27, 2007
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