St. Moritz – The White Marmot restaurant and bar sits in the clouds beside the summit station of Corviglia, above the Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz. The windows of this 170-seat restaurant are a shifting wallpaper of dazzling views, omnipotent nature and seductive ski slopes, never quite the same scene for more than a moment. Meanwhile the tables are also an ever-changing culinary canvas, and the meals a respite from strenuous sport.
Interior architecture studio Atelier Zürich renovated the 1967 building, preserving the original architecture and yellow façade and choosing a colour scheme inside to harmonise. The renovation synthesises the classic and the contemporary, so the studio chose seating capable of doing the same: the Alba chair designed by Alexander Gufler for Czech furniture brand TON. The Alba, TON's first fully upholstered collection, manages to capture multiple aspects of its surroundings in a single object.
One of Alba's virtues is that it can be upholstered with two different materials, for example, juxtaposing leather arms and velvet backrests. The chairs' combinations of upholstery echo the restaurant's graphical carpets while the curled-leaf curves of their bodies simultaneously offset the strong lines of the floors.
The Italian designer's innate love for, and ranging experience of, fine food and restaurants informed his design and the chair's name — Alba is a renowned truffle town in the Piedmont region of Italy. Gufler's appreciation for comfort is expressed in the chair through pocket spring upholstery and PUR foam, which conform luxuriously to the shape of the body following a day of navigating the mountain. It is a support system similar to those used in orthopaedic mattresses.
In front of the large windows, the restaurant's original light-coloured furnishings meant that guests had to wear sunglasses both outside and in. During the renovation, however, the designers placed dark tables and Alba armchairs in deep green upholstery (which contrasts with the pale rose of the nearby bar) in front of the windows, instead. Elsewhere, the chairs were upholstered in crimson between similarly coloured walls.
Brought up to the restaurant's high-elevation perch by cable car, the solid wood Albas express strength without feeling hard, comfort without feeling too soft and an alpine clarity of line that strikes a balance with the ragged peaks outside. The versatile chair is both rustic and chic, comforting and cool, and in this setting, assumes an almost Bondian character. It is an armchair for the active, luxurious without sacrificing cosiness, not a show-off but a beauty.