Presented at the Salone del Mobile in Milan were new versions of Grcic’s Monza series for Plank, including an outdoor model and a bistro option (pictured here). Photo Miro Zagnoli, courtesy of Plank Srl
Is comfort the most important thing for you in a chair?
Yes, but not just in terms of a chair being soft or relaxing, but what’s appropriate to a specific situation. For example, if I’m at work sitting on the front edge of a chair can be more comfortable than leaning back into the same chair that has a very well-designed and comfortable backrest. That’s why I’m fascinated by the psychology of chairs.
The design history of chairs reveals a lot about social shifts
What do you mean?
Everyone has sat on so many chairs that when you see one, you can read it and judge whether it’s comfortable before you even sit down on it. I want to understand that psychology to meet people’s expectations, because a chair that looks comfortable but feels rock hard is terribly disappointing.
Is there such a thing as a perfect chair?
No, because a chair can be perfect only for one person in a specific need or situation. A chair that is far less defined is then a better chair for more people with more postures in a greater range of situations.
Did you ever get close?
Perhaps with the Pro School Chair. It was a great project because it was so specific. We knew everything about the situation: what and where the chair was for, as well as how long people would sit in it. Therefore we could go quite far towards answering those needs, but that doesn’t make it perfect (yet).
Even though Grcic thinks there is no such thing as a perfect chair, he believes the closest he ever got was Pro for Flötotto, a school chair with an S-shaped shell designed to support active sitting. Photo Jens Bösenberg
Everyone has sat on so many chairs that when you see one, you can read it and judge whether it’s comfortable before you even sit down on it
What about perhaps your most famous design, Chair One?
When I originally designed it, I was convinced that it was for the outdoors. As you probably sit for shorter periods on an outdoors chair, ergonomic comfort is less relevant than the fact that there’s no rainwater left on the seat, for example. These considerations were very specific to my idea of where this chair would go. However, people saw something different in the chair, and most of these chairs end up indoors. I’m flattered to hear that it’s in Frame’s conference room, but I would never have designed a chair for that location in that way!
Konstantin Grcic poses with what is perhaps his most famous chair: the Chair One for Magis. Photo Marcus Jans
Primo Chair title image photographed by Gerhardt Kellerman
Read about the other 19 creatives whose work is defining our tomorrow in Frame #116, available now.