Spaghetti Chair revisited by Alfredo Häberli
Celebrating 20 years of friendship and fruitful collaboration with Alias Design and CEO Renato Stauffacher, Zurich-based Argentine designer Alfredo Häberli spoke around the theme of “Prospective, Precision and Poetry” during his conference at Flagey organized by Design September Brussels.
Matching the event, the Italian company mounted a special presentation of Giandomenico Belotti‘s iconic Spaghetti Chair. Belotti’s inital prototype was the one of the first piece to enter MoMA collection in New York in 1960 and put into production by Alias in 1979. Throughout his career, the Italian scholar, urban planner, architect, industrial designer and rationalist was active in the Po and Piedmont valleys, building iconic houses and factory for the Baleri family; exemplifying the link between industrial and domestic architecture indicative of this Lombard region. Belotti’s use of longitudinal shapes, material sequences, textures, geometries and colours have been summed up in this chair, first designed for Marina di Massa Hotel’s terrace in 1962. Using a limited number of standard forms, Belotti’s Spaghetti Chair was originally made of steel tubing and plastic PVC cord. More recently, Häberli worked with Alias on seven piece limited edition collection, re-editing and releasing this design symbol. On display for the first time at CIVA during Design September Brussels, the itinerant exhibition will continue on a ‘grand tour.’
“Alias is a fantastic company, I’ve worked with for 20 years,” Häberli explains. “Instead of making a cake, Renato and I decided to collaborate on a new project. It’s always interesting as a designer to look into an iconic chair like the Spaghetti. Here, one can witness seven interpretations of this versatile chair: Dilatata, Alta Tensione, Alta Vista, Fine, Viceversa, Fondamentale, Suppletiva. All of which pay homage to the original archival piece. In the meantime, I discovered the right proportion and worked on its dimensions but not on the volume, which had to be respected. The first prototype Belotti conceived was in the early 1960s, close to my birth. When I started working with Alias, Renato was living in a Belotti’s house. I was really impressed. What I did is more or less a sketch of an archival chair without changing its constructive details but rather resizing it.” The twist is therefore highly graphic and related to the scale of functional objects, an endless playground for drawing and invention.
By researching Belotti’s architecture, we can immediately understand connections with the constructiveness of this chair. There’s rational thinking behind this icon; emblematic of Brauer, Botta or Mackintosh. Essentiality, linearity, elementariness are all key in designing this singular industrial design, which suddenly becomes an artistic project, an art and design installation, conversation and composition, standing on its own. We could imagine the Spaghetti chair in all kinds of space typologies, by drawing vertical and horizontal associations with our contemporary urban and domestic environments. Even if its volume is flat, its significance comes with the added universal cultural value it brings.
“Spaghetti is the nickname that was chosen for marketing purposes in the 1960s, to sell the famous ‘made in Italy’ chair,” Renato Stauffacher, CEO Alias clarifies. “It was previously called Odessa.” Häberli understood that we also sit-down with our eyes and humour. “Häberli brings poetry into industrial design, rationality like Belotti, but also graphics and fantasy.”
After curating many exhibitions at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, Häberli looks to Alias as its real first industrial design partner: “Stauffacher came to my studio in Zurich. At the time, we both shared the same living values, quest for design research and product development. In 1997, we launched our first common project: SEC – which stands both for Sistema Elementare Componobile and Sistema Emozionale Componobile…” Both are in fact connected: elements for living and human emotions. “From then on, we’ve developed many products and projects including Legnoletto (2001), Segesta (2003) – one of Alias’s bestseller, Selinunte (2004), Taormina and Tindari (2005), Plein Air (2007) and Stabiles (2009), inspired by Alexander Calder’s suspended mobiles, Cross table and Tec (2011), Erice and Enna chairs (2013) as well as the Tessiletto bed (2013) at the Zurich-West 25Hours Hotel and the Ago Table (2014). The list goes on.”