Balancing Act

A new version of Jeff Miller’s Littlebig Chair reveals the trick of its structure.

When Enrico Baleri founded the furniture company Baleri Italia in 1984, he approached newfangled technologies and young designers with an open mind. But there was one thing he wouldn’t tolerate. “He despised wood,” says Jeff Miller, a New York designer who has worked for Baleri Italia for five years. “His father actually had a wood factory, and rather than join his father’s company, he started this new modern design company and eschewed wood from any product henceforth.”

That all changed in 2004, when new management at Baleri Italia lifted the ban. Two years later, it released Miller’s Littlebig Chair, a formal dining chair with a molded-plywood seat cantilevered off an aluminum frame. Miller has now designed a new, more casual version that does away with the curved frame behind the seat back. “That piece was nothing more than a magic trick,” Miller says. “It looked like it was performing some kind of function, when in fact all of the support was happening on the front edge.” Here he takes us through the other sleights of hand of the new Littlebig Chair, available through M2L (800-319-8222,

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