There isn’t a better way to start off the brand new year with a chair of this significance. To celebrated its 100th birthday last year (“last year” sounds so distant, yet it’s only yesterday that we are talking about), Poltrona Frau invited 12 of the world’s most promising young Designers to participate in a competition to create a Centenary Chair to mark this symbolic day. The competition includes talented design stars such as Benjamin Hubert, Nendo, Stephen Burks, Nika Zupanc, Constance Guisset and Daphna Laurens.
The Winning Design taking Shape.
The challenge to the Designers was simple in words, but complex in conception, “to utilize the traditional upholstery techniques under the theme, a chair to spend time”. In other words, “to project the brand values of Poltrona Frau into the future, and to do so now”. The design was judged by a panel of 9 renowned judges from the design world under the categories of formal appearance, representation of the given theme, use and interpretation of leather and comfort. The winner of this competition is from the class of 1984 – Benjamin Hubert with his design, the Juliet Chair.
The Juliet Chair in its Concept Stage where a scale model was created.
I shall try to describe this complex design the best I could. The Juliet was inspired by Italian Renaissance Fashion with the “Juliet Sleeve” and hence, the name, Juliet. The Juliet sleeves from Shakespeare’s era were tight sleeves that fits the arms with a large and puff at the shoulders. Take a look at the Juliet Chair and you will instantly notice the leather seat recreating the shoulder puff with the tight leather-wrapped seat structure portraying the tight sleeves at the arms.
All round views of the Poltrona Frau Juliet.
The inspiration was translated to the concept of traditional upholstery techniques by connecting two distinctively different upholstering techniques on the chair. The puffy leather seat was ‘tri-pleated’ to create a soft, loose and inviting appearance which conveys the comfort of the chair. This re-interpretation of a classic diamond tufting re-invents the wheel to create a whole new contemporary flavour. The ‘tri-pleated’ leather seat of the Juliet allowed the Master Artisans at Poltrona Frau to flex their craftsmanship. As a matter of fact, 16 man hours were required to stitch just a single seat. The wide seat allows the user to take various sitting positions which Benjamin Hubert hope to align with how people tend to use and mis-use furniture. The lower part of the chair was upholstered in a contrasting method with its tight-fitting leather conveying a different property of the leather – flexibility and tensile strength.
Wide and Comfortable – This is what the Juliet is meant for, to allow users to “mis-use” the chair and be comfortable in all sorts of seating positions.
Moving under the skin, the Juliet had a traditional wooden frame that was narrow at the base and widens when moving up to the seat, keeping in line with the historic designs of Poltrona Frau’s classic armchairs. The wooden structure is created from solid beech and birch plywood with seat suspension provided by elastic belts. Benjamin Hubert added polyurethane foam and polyester wadding to the seat and back rest for added comfort. As with traditional Poltrona Frau armchairs, upholstery options are available in standard Pelle Frau® leather from the Color System, Pelle Frau® Soul or in the exclusive Pelle Frau® Century leather. The “Special” status of the Centenary Chair was further embellished by an innovative crimp stitching in the interior part of the seat and backrest.
The Pouf is a necessary accessory.
No armchair would be complete without a pouf to rest your legs. Designed in the same concept, the same puff geometries and ‘tri-pleat’ with skin-tight upholstery are in place. As with the Juliet chair, the pouf is also available in the special edition of the new Pelle Frau® Century leather.
The Contemporary Red Beauty works so well even in historic settings.
Knowing the story to a piece of design almost always enhances the appreciation of the Designer’s work. Knowing the skills and work put into creating the masterpiece justifies the price tag. Have a look at the statistics below on time and material put into producing a single piece of a Poltrona Frau Juliet and you will be in awe and you would want to get one if it is within your reach. For one, I would love to have one, but sadly, it is not within my reach. 😦
The beautiful and complex stitchings that defined the Centenary Chair – The Poltrona Frau Juliet.
13 m2 of Pelle Frau® leather
500 m of thread
100 m of stitching
12 kg of solid beech
16 hours to stitch a seat
24 hours of work