For the first time in its 60 year history Kartell has decided to pay homage to one of the most iconic pieces in its Museum and is reissuing the 4801 Armchair designed in 1965 by the Italian master of design, Joe Colombo.
An authentic symbol of design in the '60s, much sought-after in the auctions of modern historical pieces and on show in the most important world museums such as the MOMA in New York, the Victoria & Albert in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the 4801 armchair is also famous for being the only piece produced by Kartell made entirely of wood.
The use of this material "unusual" for a brand born with the mission to create pieces made of plastic was because there were no technologies in those times which would allow the industrial production of the material of choice.
Kartell took the risk of investing in the moulds for the design and thus created a seat made of three layers of bent pressed plywood painted with polyester paints and fitted together without any metallic parts or glue. The union of the three parts formed the seat, the back and the load-bearing frame. The colours listed in the catalogue were white, orange, green and black. There was also a version with a white or black cushion covered in white, beaver, green and black PVC fabric.
Despite its age of 46 years, the 4801 armchair still retains the same allure it had when it first came out and an amazing contemporaneousness of form such that a re-edition was practically inevitable. With current industrial moulding technology Kartell is now able to make the same product using plastic (PMMA) to reproduce the curving sinuous lines of the piece in the same proportions.
A numbered series of Joe Colombo's 2011 version of the armchair is now available in three line-enhancing colours: crystal, white and black.