When a chair is ‘super normal’
The story of a Vitra Original
In 1988 Morrison presented his design principles in two exhibitions: ‘Some New Items for the Home, Part I’ at the DAAD gallery in Berlin, and one year later ‘Some New Items for the Home, Part II’, staged by Vitra at Galleria Fac-Simile in Milan. The goal was to create furnishings for these installations that would not merely be an assemblage of individual objects, but would evoke a certain atmosphere. In so doing, he sought to understand what lends character to a room and what does not and to avoid designing things that might attract attention, but would not work in the intended context.
Soon thereafter, Vitra encouraged the designer to develop the Ply Chair for mass production. The chair distilled Morrison’s design approach in a product that resembles a sketch. His guiding principle of producing articles of daily life for everyone was expressed in his publications ‘Utilism, The Unimportance of Form’ and in 2007 in ‘Super Normal – Sensations of the Ordinary’.
This same thinking shaped the development of the APC. The APC does not come across as radically new, yet at the same time it is unlike any other chair. It combines the accumulated knowledge of an experienced designer and the expertise of Vitra, but looks utterly familiar, as though it has always been around. In other words, echoing Jasper Morrison’s design approach: like a good chair.
The 2016 launch of the APC was driven by the same challenge as the Basel Chair: is it possible to further renew the café chair genre? Morrison: ‘Things don‘t need to be new so much as they need to be better.’ The APC took this next step with an innovative material: manufactured entirely out of plastic, it represents a major breakthrough in performance and appearance. Its seat geometry, the resilient plastic components and the construction of the backrest, which is connected to the frame by twin shafts cushioned with rubber buffers, provide flexible movement and comfort. Recyclable polypropylene is used for the frame as well as for the seat and backrest, but in two different material compositions, which is visually expressed in the nuanced colour tones of the different components.
Publication Date: 16.04.2018
Images: Marc Eggimann, Elena Mahugo, Jasper Morrison
Vitra originals and their stories in the Vitra Magazine
Invest in an original, for it will always retain its worth. An imitation will never be anything but a copy, a stolen idea. Appreciate the differences – not just the quality and more obvious variances but also the sensory and emotional appeal of the authentic product. An original is a lifelong companion and may well outlive you to be gratefully received by the next generation. But that’s a story for the future.