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Top yacht designers pick their favourite piece of design

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Superleggera chair

Words by Francesca Muzio, co-founder of FM Architettura d’Interni

My mother bought me this chair for my desk when I was a child. I was completely fascinated by it: incredibly light, yet so resistant. As I studied architecture I came to appreciate it, and all of its nuances, even more. Today, these are the chairs that surround my dining room table.

The idea of a super-light chair was developed nearly two centuries ago in the town where I was born, Chiavari, near Portofino. There are legends about the chairs being tested by throwing them out of the window. In 1957, Gio Ponti was inspired by the Chiavarina chair to design his most famous chair, the Superleggera.

Ponti’s design is the result of endless experimentation — nothing was assumed. Every angle, joint and sculpted curve was carefully adjusted, and the backrest even inclines backwards, proving he had an understanding of the way the body really rests. The resulting simplicity, and weight of only 1.7kg, is anything but banal.

I have a profound appreciation for lightness in design. It emphasises the people and their interactions that fill the space, rather than making the object dominant. With the Superleggera, the light is invited into the space and people are encouraged to move freely, effortlessly rearranging the chairs on a whim.

To me the success of the design in the end lies in the dual respect for body and space, which is why I believe that the Superleggera is the best representation of Italian design in the world.

Photo: Gio Ponti Archives

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