To celebrate the centenary of Vico Magistretti’s birth, Fritz Hansen presents the Vico Duo chair, a piece created in close collaboration with the Italian industrial designer in 1997.
The chair’s simplicity is an effective combination of the Italian design sophistication typical of Magistretti’s work and the Danish craftsmanship excellence that Fritz Hansen represent.
Magistretti was inspired by a sketch of the letter ‘Z’ he made on a piece of paper while visiting Fritz Hansen’s factory, a sign which was then developed into a sinuous pair of armrests framing the simple line forming the seat and back. The designer was keen to collaborate with Fritz Hansen to experience the atelier’s veneer expertise, combined here with a continuous steel structure supporting the chair.
A truly industrial designer, Magistretti was always fascinated by production techniques throughout his career, and worked closely with manufacturers on all his pieces. ‘In my experience, design is always done 50 per cent by me and 50 per cent by the manufacturer, so much so that I never sketch in my studio,’ he said in an interview in the 1990s. His modus operandi was based on ‘la chiacchiera’, a chat with everyone involved in the production of his pieces, to better understand strengths and possibilities. He famously could give a manufacturer simple telephone instructions to make his designs, which were always based on simple, timeless concepts.
For him, working with Fritz Hansen in Denmark represented a dream come true, as he wrote in a note in the mid-1990s. He had always been inspired by Danish modernism, and cited Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl and Hans J. Wegner, among others, as great influences in his work. When he first arrived at the company, he did not have a project in mind. ‘I knew that the people who had worked [at Fritz Hansen] for years could contribute so much to the project if we worked together,’ he said.
He sat around a table with everyone involved, from carpenter to mould maker, and together they decided on how to create his pieces. ‘Our final goal is to create an ideal of beauty rooted in rationality,’ he said in an interview to Italian newspaper La Repubblica during that tim
The company made minimal changes to this new release of the chair, to make it more contemporary (with new arm pads for added comfort and a black, powder-coated base), but it mostly kept it faithful to Magistretti’s original vision as an essential design piece fit for modern living. Available in black tinted ash, natural walnut and oak, the Vico Duo joins Fritz Hansen’s diverse catalogue featuring icons by Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, and pieces by contemporary names such as Jaime Hayon and Nendo.
‘This chair was, from the beginning, a true collaboration between Fritz Hansen and Vico Magistretti,’ says Christian Andresen, Fritz Hansen’s head of design. ‘By 1997, Magistretti was confident and relaxed in his practice and career. The design has a kind of simple ease and strength that reflects that.’
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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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