Carlo Mollino, ‘"Lattes" Chair’, 1951, Sotheby's: Important Design
Carlo Mollino, ‘"Lattes" Chair’, 1951, Sotheby's: Important Design
Carlo Mollino, ‘"Lattes" Chair’, 1951, Sotheby's: Important Design

Commissioned by Mario Lattes for the Lattes publishing house offices.

Produced by Apelli & Varesio, Turin

The present lot is registered in the library of the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, as number CM 358-1.

From the Catalogue:

Every time Carlo Mollino was taken by an idea he would pursue it obstinately until he brought the problem to its more congenial solution. This is the case of the design of the “Lattes” chair, which was re-designed four different times in about a one-year period in order to get to this perfected result.

The May 1952 issue of Domus magazine shows three variants of the model, the fourth being the one designed in 1950 for the traveling exhibition Italy at Work, which first opened at the Brooklyn Museum and toured to eleven other American museums. Altogether, six chairs were manufactured of the four different models, and the present lot is the only single example that survives today.

In this design, Mollino is confronting the issue of an office chair for a secretary, which, though it may not seem like the most thrilling task, he realized with great style and ingenuity. The chair ideally borders on one end the graceful lines of the seated female figure, and on the other end the precise, mechanical quality of a typewriter. Its design thus mediates the two through its sensuous organic backrest and seat which transition into the rigid lines of the front legs. The subtly intellectual design of the chair bears the clear, correct and dry qualities of an object belonging to the Modern Movement. It is made of single, simple, detachable, machine-made elements. The joints are either mechanical brass nuts and bolts, or engineered with the inventive use of black lacquered plywood inserts fixing the legs without the use of nails or glue. The elemental cross-bar seat structure is correctly shaped, being thicker at its center—the point of maximum effort. Both the back and seat are fixed with rubber pads that make them flexible and oscillating for more comfort. The backrest and seat are ergonomically shaped to perfeclty match a human body. Details like the brass ends on the legs or the millings at the connecting points of the legs with the cross-bar semantically distinguish the different components and functions.

In this design, the various shapes and elements have the boldness of an abstract painting: the back legs are sexy, the split seat with differently plied ends surprises, and the backrest has the energy of an African mask. Mollino’s innovative forms become unified in a way that transports us to another world.—Napoleone Ferrari, Founder and Curator, Museo Casa Mollino

—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Carlo Mollino: Maniera Moderna, Haus der Kunst, Munich, September 16, 2011-January 8, 2012

Domus, no. 270, May 1952, p. 53 (for the present lot illustrated)
Domus, no. 294, May 1954, p. 34 (for the present lot illustrated)
Roberto Aloi, Esempi: Sedie, Poltrone, Divani, Milan, 1957, figs. 48-52 (for the present lot illustrated)
Fulvio and Napoleone Ferrari, The furniture of Carlo Mollino, London, 2006, p. 181 (for the present lot illustrated)
Carlo Mollino: Maniera Moderna, exh. cat., Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2011, p. 305 (for the present lot illustrated)
Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, Carlo Mollino: Plywood, 1951, New York, 2014, n. p. (for a discussion, illustrations and period photographs of the present lot)

Private Collection, Milan, acquired directly from the artist, 1954

About Carlo Mollino