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Standing Room Only: Promosedia: 26th International Chair Exhibition
Udine, Italy: Despite a shaky global economy, thousands turned out to wander acres of seating products ranging from museum classics to the futuristic.
by Mary Z. Donovan
November 14, 2002
The design of cars, fashion, fabrics – the design of everything is serious business in Italy. So it would stand to reason that even the making of chairs is a very important industry here.
This was the 26th year Promosedia: International Chair Exhibition opened its doors in Udine, the Industrial Chair District in northern Italy (formerly known as the Chair Triangle), and a world capital for the manufacturing of chairs.
On a September weekend, more than 15,000 visitors (contractors, buyers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, architects, designers, and journalists from 71 countries) saw over 6,000 items offered by 220 exhibitors – and not only chairs, but also tables, and this year lighting. It is both a trade show and a cultural event, with banquets, fashion shows, and awards presentations that include the Top Ten. (If you’re wondering why we’re only showing nine, the rules state that entries must be pieces that have never been exhibited or advertised before this show. One winning chair was withdrawn when the manufacturer realized that the entry had been presented as a prototype at a fair earlier this year.)
I was homesick for the look of the traditional leather chair or even a plain wood chair. Those are mainly in museums now in Italy. This is why I had the official photographer take my picture with the winning chairs from competitions going back to the 1970’s (when the prizes were awarded to the designers who liked those materials). It seems that all the prizes today are going to plastic chairs in pink and green. (What kind of chair do I like? Straight-backed, hard. But then I grew up Roman Catholic.)
A popular pavilion housed the BestSeller Exhibition displaying part of the historic collection of Thonet chairs, and historic as well as more recent creations of Poltrona Frau (which recently acquired Thonet). Also on display were the “historic successes” of 15 outstanding Italian companies.
Let's face it, as an American (particularly a New Yorker), I come from a place where we worship the stuffed chair. And we drink wine during dinner on the weekend – maybe. Nice weather? Not often. So to wander through pavilions, drink incredible wines with designers and journalists from all over the world, and to look out at white clouds and clean air...almost every chair looked good to me.
The international jury for the Top Ten Awards, however, did
not mince words in their final comments about the 58 entries: “The Panel…found that there was no real
innovation in the choice of materials or their usages – characteristics that
more than ever decide consumer choices. Only two products that presented
innovative characteristics were by foreign manufacturers, proof that recent
Italian design has been resting on its laurels and foreigners have caught up
and are more inventive. We urge companies to be more courageous in their choice
of technology and material.”
The Top Ten Jury might have been a bit more enthusiastic if they’d juried the Ernesto Caiazza Promosedia Competition: Ideas for the Design of a European Chair. This year, the Caiazza competition, which is open to students and professionals under 40, competition had 278 entries. Designs were chosen for innovation as well as their viability for production. Four young professionals and five students won the Caiazza Award.
This being Italy, the sun will surely be shining on the 27th Promosedia, September 13-16, 2003.
Mary Z. Donovan works at Columbia University in the Mailman School of Public Health. She is finishing her thesis this year in the architecture school with Professor Gary McNeil at CCNY.
(click on pictures to enlarge)
(Promosedia)Top 10: Chair of the Year 2002: "SeatTable." one simple movement transforms the seat into a table or vice versa. Company: ORT (Sofia, Bulgaria); Designer: Ilian Vladimirov Milinov
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Form 44." Company: Ing. Frank Plank Gmbh; Designer: Heidemarie Leitner
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Flip/A." Company: Les Griffes S.r.l.; Designer: Enio Calosi
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Ambra." Company: Filippo Sibau & Co. S.r.l.; Designer: Maria Prando e Studio Sibau
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Breeze." Company: PSM S.r.l.; Designer: Daniel Rode
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Gabry." Company: Livoni Edoardo & Figlio S.r.l.; Designer: Mauro Fadel
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Janet." Company: Sintesi 2 Spa; Designer: Studio Sintesi
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Lux." Company: Italteam S.r.l.; Designer: Jan Sabro
(Promosedia)Top 10: "Easy." Company: TAL S.r.l.; Designer: Uff. Tecnico TAL
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Professional: IN FIERI; Arch. Nicola Auciello (Ladispoli, Roma)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Professional: HEI JOE; Arch. Giovanni Siard (Padova)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Professional: NOMAD Educational Seating for Children; Stefan Van Ouytsel, Sven Verhaert, Cèdric Vanheule, Annelies Geukens (Belgium)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Professional: WITTGENSTEIN-chair; Antonio Ortiz (Austria)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Student: UNITY FLOOR CHAIR; Simon Hewlett (Great Britain)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Student: CLOVER-021072; Tomoko Koike (Denmark)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Student: UNperDUE; Claudio Meninno (Italy)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Student: 5L stool; Tomotaka Ikeda (Denmark)
(Promosedia)Caiazza Award/Student: WK001; Sander Mulder (Netherlands)
(-)The author with one of her favorites: "Antropovarius," designed by Ferninand Porche, 1984
© 2002 ArchNewsNow.com