October 1, 2003
Monica Graffeo’s new chair takes its inspiration from car manufacturing (and French pop music).
The Salone Internazionale del Mobile, in Milan, is a great place to discover new international trends, see new products, and scout for talented new designers like Monica Graffeo, who has been quietly producing work for Kristalia (www.kristalia.it), a young Italian furniture company. Here Graffeo talks about her Boum chair (designed in collaboration with Kristalia marketing director and co-owner Ruggero Magrini), which won this year’s Young & Design prize at the Salone.
At first I thought of naming it Boom, but later we found a French song called “Boum” that we liked so we decided to link the chair to that song.
I wanted to create a stackable chair for both the contract and residential markets that had a soft feeling when you sat in it. I found a technology used in the automotive industry for making car doors by sandwiching a metal structure between two materials, and thought it would be a good idea to do a chair with this.
The knob on the back is a handle, but it is also a technical solution because we needed it to hide a screw that holds the two shells together.
It’s available with or without arms (as shown here), as a swivel chair, and as a swivel chair on casters.
The biggest problems in designing the prototype were figuring out how to hide the extra fabric along the chair perimeter and deciding what kind of foam/fabric to use. At first we thought of using two shells: one for the back and one for the front. The back shell was just to cover the flap all around the perimeter of the chair. Having two shells meant a higher cost, so I had to design the shape precisely, working very closely with the engineers.
It was important to use a fabric that would be durable and easy to clean. I also wanted the chair to be a friendly, communicative object and not look too technical, so I decided to use a high-performance soft fabric in shiny colors. This was the first time our manufacturers tried pressing shiny fabric and thick foam together, so we needed to do some tests. We made a prototype mold to try out many materials, and after seven months of many tests, we found the right one.
Figuring out the metal structure and plastic parts for the chair was not a problem. The chair is made of an anodized-aluminum structure with polypropylene end parts. Kristalia’s network of suppliers helped us find existing materials and create others, thanks to their knowledge in the shoe-manufacturing and fire-safety fields.