This year, I Saloni of Milan will be celebrating its 50th year! The cultural institution has grown dramatically over the years from an initial 328 exhibitors featured in 11,000 square meters to over 2,500 in an area now measuring over 200,000 square meters. The Salone Internazionale del Mobile is almost here and several architects will be presenting new furniture. Ben van Berkel of UNStudio has shared three new seating designs that will be featured this month: My Lounge Chair for Walter Knoll, the New Amsterdam Chair for Wilde+Spieth and the SitTable for PROOFF. “The architectural approach to furniture is different from that of the industrial designer as the architect begins with the space and the environment that the chair will become a part of. All the details of the chair are considered for their spatial effects. This architectural approach to furniture is connected to a very personal ideology of space,” explained Ben van Berkel.
Taking his architectural talent to a new scale, van Berkel’s chairs maintain the characteristic curves and fluid forms found in his built structures. For MY Lounge Chair for the Walter Knoll stand, the chair continues and extends the formal qualities and spatial effects of the earlier MYchair sequence. Specifically, the design is based on furthering the concept of relaxation and reflection.
The New Amsterdam Chair was designed with New York’s New Amsterdam Pavilion in mind [check out our previous coverage of the pavilion], as the multi-functional chair suits both indoor and outdoor needs. The design of the stackable New Amsterdam Chair is based on a continuous, single line which expands into an uninterrupted surface, forming a shell-like cast for the human body. “The human touch is expressed in the organization of the chair. The New Amsterdam Chair plays with the relationship between the stationary object and the more animate human form,” explains van Berkel.
And, for the last piece of furniture, van Berkel has designed the SitTable to compliment the various ways in which people communicate. It refers to and extends the traditional role of the table as a social meeting place and offers a rich mix of qualities and a myriad of possibilities – not only in the context of flexible placement, but also in the many tasks that can simultaneously be carried out at the table, both solitary and social, or a combination of the two. ”…For the last four years or so, the sofa, the chair, and the table have become integral parts of that broad architectural palette too and are now developing into a family of designs in the classical tradition of the architect-designer,” explained van Berkel.
If you are in the area, be sure to check out both the prototype for the New Amsterdam Chair and the final design for the SitTable which will be displayed at the Exhibition ‘The Tortonas’ – Tortona 37, at Via Tortona 37.