17 designers and artists reinterpret Dior’s ‘Medallion’ chair

17 designers and artists reinterpret Dior’s ‘Medallion’ chair

The Dior ‘Medallion’ chair project marks the French maison’s most significant presence at Milan’s Salone del Mobile to date

Seventeen designers and artists have been invited to reinterpret Dior’s ‘Medallion’ chair for the French house’s most significant presence at Milan’s Salone del Mobile to date. A roster pulled together from China, Korea, Japan, Lebanon, South Africa, UK, Holland, Italy and France includes Sam Baron, Nacho Carbonell, Pierre Charpin, Dimore Studio, Martino Gamper, India Mahdavi, Nendo, Ma Yansong, Tokujin Yoshioka and Pierre Yovanovitch.

The Dior Maison collection, under the creative direction of Cordelia de Castellane focuses on tabletop and decorative items, yet in November 2020 it launched the ‘Bonne Aventure’ card table and chairs. At first it might seem out of character to find chairs at Dior, but back in 1947 when Christian Dior opened his couture house, he turned to Victor Grandpierre to decorate the salon.

That original design scheme included grey and white armchairs and the oval-backed ‘Medallion’ chair used to seat guests at his fashion shows, both in a 1940s vision of the neoclassical Louis XVI style that the couturier loved. The armchair was immortalised in the 1955 Diorama and the 1958 Miss Dior perfume campaigns by illustrator René Grau. It has subsequently has become almost as iconic to the house as the ‘Bar’ jacket or Cannage pattern.

Showing from 5 September 2021, in Palazzo Citterio in Milan’s Brera neighbourhood, 17 designers have put their personal spin on the oval-backed Dior ‘Medallion’ chair. Around 30 chairs are exhibited, some as pairs or sets.

Dior ‘Medallion’ chair: 17 new designs go on display at Salone del Mobile 2021

Dior Medallion Chair by Pierre Charpin

Pierre Charpin. Image courtesy: Marion Berrin

Pierre Charpin has reduced the Dior ‘Medallion’ chair to the absolute minimum, with just an outline (that said it’s a particularly bold outline) in black metal resin and finished with a mirrored seat, for the user to look ‘at oneself before being looked at’.

Sam Baron’s ‘Ensemble(s)’ is made up of four pared-back chairs assembled together in a deliberately haphazard way. 

Nendo’s ‘Chaise Medaillon 3.0’ is made of two sheets of tempered glass, with the back and legs formed from a curve held in place with a shelf-like seat and the signature oval back rendered as a void, in a very pleasing interpretation.

Seoul-based Seungjin Yang has applied his signature balloon technique to ‘upholster’ the seat and back of his otherwise pretty faithful render of the chair, made entirely in epoxy resin.

Dior Medallion Chair by Khaled El Mays

Khaled El Mays. Image courtesy: Tanya Traboulsi 

India Mahdavi proposes a chair design close to the original in Dior grey lacquered wood, bringing her passion for craft and sense of colour through hand-embroidery from Kashmir in Djerba wool; each chair in her set of five is slightly different, and the designer calls them ‘a united tribe despite their individuality’.

Beirut-based designer Khaled El Mays has deconstructed, reinterpreted and reinvented the original, by extending the back, incorporating a straw-backed mirror and adding leather fringed feet.

Pierre Yovanovitch’s his and hers pair, ‘Monsieur et Madame Dior’, are crafted in bronze and upholstered with embroidered canvas in Dior’s oblique logo pattern, first developed by Marc Bohan in 1967, made expressly by Vermont in its Paris ateliers. §

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