For the first time in its 60-year history, Kartell will pay homage to one of the most iconic pieces in its archive. Originally designed by the Italian master in 1965, the 4801 chair is famous for being the only Kartell piece ever to be made entirely of wood.
To celebrate the release, the Kartell Museum will partner with R 20th Century, one of the premier design galleries in the U.S., to present an exhibition examining Colombo’s rich collaboration with the company, one that gave rise to some of the most seminal designs of the 1960’s. It will also feature Colombo’s entire body of work for Kartell, alongside sketches and photographs from the Joe Colombo Archive.
Joe Colombo (b. 1930) created a dozen pieces for Kartell from 1964 until his untimely death in 1971. The Milanese designer initially began collaborating with the company by designing lighting fixtures, and eventually chairs and accessories. In addition to the 4801, Colombo is renowned for designing the 4867 chair, also known as the “Universale” (1968) – the first chair in the world made entirely of injection-moulded ABS in a single mould, still sold by Kartell to this day.
A limited number of wood 4801 chairs were produced in the ‘60s, when the technologies did not exist to produce Colombo’s design using Kartell’s material of choice. The original chair was crafted with a bent pressed plywood seat, back and frame fitted together without any metallic parts or glue, painted in of-the-era hues of white, green, orange and black.
As a tribute to Colombo and the company’s history with the legendary designer, Kartell has revisited the 4801 design with advanced industrial moulding technologies. The second generation of the 4801 chair, to be available in a numbered series beginning in February 2012, captures the curving sinuous lines and exact proportions of Colombo’s design, now in sleek transparent, white and black plastic (PMMA).
An authentic symbol of design in the ‘60s, the highly sought-after 4801 chair is revered by private collectors and institutions alike, and has been displayed internationally at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.