Germany / Italy, 1964
Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso
Injection molded plastic
10¾ × 10½ × 19½”
Zanuso’s most internationally successful design, the K4999 (earlier K1340) for Kartell, also turns out to be the one that most exemplifies his holistic, research-driven approach. His recount of the intensive path that led from the Lambda to the K4999 in “Design and Society” makes plain just how meticulous he could be: “The formal and structural implications of this concept… required more than 50 prototypes to develop it to the point of industrial production… But even at this point, research in our office continued. In connection with a commission to design classroom furniture for the city of Milan, we had already been experimenting with a scaled-down stacking version of the Lambda for elementary schools. As we were looking for alternatives to sheet metal, a material inappropriate for this particular application, a notable drop in the price of polyethylene on the expiration of international patents opened up completely new possibilities. This new material, in turn, led to a rethinking of the formal and structural characteristics of the chair and, consequently, to much additional research. The final result, the Child's Chair, surprised even us; because of the various stacking possibilities we had developed as a result of structural requirements imposed by the use of polyethylene, we had created a chair that was also a toy, which would stimulate a child's fantasy in his construction of castles, towers, trains, and slides. At the same time, it was indestructible, and soft enough that it could not harm anyone, yet too heavy to be thrown.” It represented the very first structural application of polyethylene plastic in furniture. —Pamono
Lambda Chair by Richard Sapper & Marco Zanuso, 1959.
Richard Sapper & Marco Zanuso.
📷 Wright, Richard Sapper, Kartell