Out of this World

Dario Antonioni talks about his Luna chair for Orange22.

Dario Antonioni (b. 1973) attended the University of Michigan’s aerospace engineering program prior to receiving his B.S. in industrial design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he now teaches. He cofounded Orange22 with Sami Hayek in 1999. The company is currently designing furniture for Palliser, a restaurant in San Diego, and two more products that will debut at the ICFF later this year.

When Dario Antonioni and Sami Hayek founded Orange22 (www.orange22.com), an L.A.-based multidisciplinary design laboratory, they already had a successful business designing furniture for other companies. Because they found that a lot of the manufacturers weren’t willing to experiment, they formed Orange22 so they could test new ground, and show the public and other manufacturers what they are capable of doing. This month Antonioni talks about the design of his Luna chair, which made its debut at last year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), in New York.

The Luna chair was inspired by living with all these digital gadgets. It comes with an unobtrusive swinging pedestal for wireless gadgets that rotates 220 degrees.

Everybody was saying that Luna looks like a lunar lander. One idea was to call it the Endeavor Collection and label each product after different missions, like 007. There’s the Luna chair and the Luna 2, a sofa that is twice the size of the chair.

The backrest is not attached to the back of the upholstered piece. One of the biggest challenges was engineering how to attach this piece of wraparound wood to the frame and have it be integrated structurally with the upholstered seat. It basically sits on this metal frame, so that you don’t rely on either for back support.

The built-in backrest and nightstands (or end tables) allow you to sit and work. The chair is multifunctional—a place to sit and chill out or work: you can pull out your laptop, throw it on the tray, and view a DVD movie. Since everything is wireless now, you can surf the Web anywhere in your house.

We start out sketching initial concepts on paper. From that point on we build a small scale model out of plastic and foam, then photograph it from different angles to see what the piece looks like. If we’re happy with it we make a 3-D computer rendering. At that point we can use the imagery to get price quotes for the fabrication costs.

We built the initial prototypes in Mexico and fantasized that we would make everything there, but it was incredibly difficult to rely on: one day the entire block was out of power. So we brought everything to Los Angeles. It only makes sense to go overseas or somewhere else if you have much higher volume.

Because we were dealing with three different materials—upholstery, metal, and wood—just managing the different vendors was a challenge. A lot of times you’ll notice that when a young company produces their own objects they tend to stick to one or two materials, like bent plywood, metal, or glass. Making sure the quality and size of the wood was going to come out right, that it matched the steel framework, and that the upholstery matched the size of the metal was a bit of a chore.

The chair shown here is in matte white epoxy with a vodka blue suede seating surface. It comes in three colors (white, wenge, and nogal) and is available in a variety of fabrics.

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