modern icon: the Paulistano Chair
This iconic piece of Modern design has only been available in the United States for the last decade. Find out more on today's claass HAUS.
Created in 1957 for architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s (1928-) career-making masterpiece, the Paulistano Athletic Club in São Paolo, the Paulistano Armchair is a deceptively simple piece of Modernism. The inventive frame, a continuous 17-foot piece of steel welded in just a single spot, is an achievement in technical precision. Taking inspiration from a hammock utilized by Brazilian indigenous cultures, the steel structure is wrapped in leather (or canvas), the material meant to flex slightly for comfort and angle preference. Pushing the limits of form, the Paulistano Armchair stands as an imaginative and visually-precise seating solution that is functional and versatile, graceful and elegant.
A member of the avant-garde “Paulist brutalist” group during the 1950s, Paulo Mendes da Rocha earned widespread international fame when he received the 2006 Pritzker Architecture Prize. One of the most prolific architects in Brazil, Mendes da Rocha (now 88 years young) has remained consistently daring over his long career, designing powerful concrete and steel forms with bold spatial dynamics and technical rigor. His public work, a union between the practical and the extraordinary, has influenced a generation of new architects eager to build upon the legendary designer's unflinching, socially aware expression. (See more of the architect's work here.)
After Mendes da Rocha won the elusive Pritzker Prize, the Paulistano Chair finally became available in the United States. Now a venerated classic with growing appeal, the chair is part of the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) permanent collection and remains a timeless piece of twentieth-century design.
The chair is available (in leather and canvas) at Design Within Reach.
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