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August Exhibition - Polybloc

In an industry that has become obsessed with chairs, whether it be the organic curves of the Eames Rocker, the elegance of Mies van der Röhe's Barcelona chair or the simplicity of Verner Panton's S-shaped chair, it is surprising to think that the most used and globally recognised seat is the Monobloc, or as we know it, your everyday white plastic chair.

Everyone at every level sits on them somewhere. They have a kind of egalitarian ubiquity. From the back gardens of sunny suburbia, to exotic pool side patios, from allotment sheds and bingo halls to dusty, war-torn guerrilla out-posts, this chair is always there.

Millions have been produced since their debut in the early 1980s. In fact today every 70 seconds a Monobloc chair pops out from a single press.
The early versions sold for $50 each, but as more were manufactured, the price dropped to less than $3. Today they are being manufactured in Russia, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, US, Italy, France, Germany, Morocco, Turkey, Israel and China, and although landfill sites are being clogged up with them, millions continue to be made.

However, despite its popularity, no one seems to know exactly who designed it. Some research suggests it was Italian designer Vico Magistretti that first invented the fantastically clever injection-moulded one-piece, while others believe it to be Danish designer Verner Panton. In this case, it seems that the mystery surrounding its origin just adds to its paradoxical and pretentious nature. Basic, white and structurally pared down, yet simultaneously shaped like thrones, basket chairs and wood carved chairs from previous centuries.

Recent years have seen a wave of designers attempting to give this very cheap, very light and very anonymous chair a new lease of life. To inverse and reverse it. To make it noticed for all of its aspirational aching to be more than just ordinarily ordinary.

So, seeing as it’s the summer, we thought it would be fitting to take a look at the best and worst of the more recent re-designs. And perhaps to suggest, that if you were thinking it’s about time someone re-invented the good old Monobloc, you may want to think again.

A case of, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’....we couldn’t say.

For more information and images on the Monobloc chair see Jens Thiel´s website.

A big thanks to Jens Thiel for a great deal of information and images related to this post. 

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'The Panton Chair’ by Werner Panton, Produced in 1973
'The Panton Chair’ by Werner Panton, Produced in 1973
'Selene’ chair by Vico Magistretti, Produced in 1969, one of the first one-piece plastic chairs in design history.
'Selene’ chair by Vico Magistretti, Produced in 1969, one of the first one-piece plastic chairs in design history.
'Sonet Butterfly' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'Sonet Butterfly' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'White Plastic Chair' by Tina Roeder, as part of her series of found/old/decaying garden chairs, 2002.  Individually perforated and sanded in order to give a new lease of life.
'White Plastic Chair' by Tina Roeder, as part of her series of found/old/decaying garden chairs, 2002. Individually perforated and sanded in order to give a new lease of life.
 ‘Réanim Project, A Medicine for Objects’ by 5.5 designers, 2003.
‘Réanim Project, A Medicine for Objects’ by 5.5 designers, 2003.
'Plastic Chair In Wood' by Maarten Baas, 2008. Carved camphor wood with varnish
'Plastic Chair In Wood' by Maarten Baas, 2008. Carved camphor wood with varnish
'Statement Chair’ by Marti Guixe, 2004.  Limited edition of ten signed chairs, as part of the stop discrimination of cheap furniture series.
'Statement Chair’ by Marti Guixe, 2004. Limited edition of ten signed chairs, as part of the stop discrimination of cheap furniture series.
'Cathedria Rassa' by Martino Gamper, As part of the A 100 Chairs In 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'Cathedria Rassa' by Martino Gamper, As part of the A 100 Chairs In 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'Rocking Chair' by Rebecca Halstedt, seen at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, 2004
'Rocking Chair' by Rebecca Halstedt, seen at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, 2004
Plastic armchair upholstered in black leather, by Swedish designer team Front, 2006
Plastic armchair upholstered in black leather, by Swedish designer team Front, 2006
'TwoSome' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'TwoSome' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
 ‘Rest In Peace’ by Robert Stadler, 2004
‘Rest In Peace’ by Robert Stadler, 2004
'Mono Suede' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'Mono Suede' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
Gold Chair by Studio Ball, as part of the Sustaining Desire Exhibition, 2005
Gold Chair by Studio Ball, as part of the Sustaining Desire Exhibition, 2005
Easy Chair by Jerzy Seymour for Magis, 2005
Easy Chair by Jerzy Seymour for Magis, 2005
'Mono-Jackobsen' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs In 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
'Mono-Jackobsen' by Martino Gamper, as part of the A 100 Chairs In 100 Days Exhibition, 2007
The Plastic Rocker by Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers, winner of Designboom's rocking chair competition and on display at 100% Design, 2002
The Plastic Rocker by Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers, winner of Designboom's rocking chair competition and on display at 100% Design, 2002
We don't remember where we found this one, but thought it was worth including all the same.
We don't remember where we found this one, but thought it was worth including all the same.
'Transplastic' by the Campana brothers, 2007
'Transplastic' by the Campana brothers, 2007
Designer unknown, Exhibited at Art Basel Miami, 2006.  Image courtesy of Rachel Davidson.
Designer unknown, Exhibited at Art Basel Miami, 2006. Image courtesy of Rachel Davidson.
The Sliding Chair by Matali Crasset, 2003
The Sliding Chair by Matali Crasset, 2003
Martino Gamper as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibtion, 2007
Martino Gamper as part of the A 100 Chairs in 100 Days Exhibtion, 2007
Designer Unknown
Designer Unknown
Designer Unknown
Designer Unknown


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