In the 1980s, the lively debate about postmodern architecture brought about a productive dialogue between design and architecture. This inspired Swiss Architect Mario Botta (b. 1943) to design seating furniture reflecting the contemporary spirit for the Italian company Alias, unveiling it at a Giorgio Armani fashion show.
Mario Botta had already developed his own distinctive architectural style when the Italian company Alias asked him to design a chair for them. A chair by a master architect who put his faith completely in the basic geometry of cubes or cylinders? The challenge evidently appealed to Botta, because he saw no fundamental difference between designing a chair and a house. And he did in fact base his first attempt, the Prima chair, on a cube. With consummate skill, he traced the edges of the Platonic body with flat steel and tubes in such a way that a single continuous line could carry a seat made of springy sheet metal and, as a rear extension over the seat, a cylindrical backrest. Now his creative powers were unleashed: over the next few years, Botta produced a host of designs for chairs, tables, and a sofa; for table, floor, and wall lamps; even for carafes and vases. Seconda is an interesting second attempt on the theme of the chair. By introducing armrests, Botta achieved a greater level of figural complexity than in the elementary Prima. A right-angled triangle now augments the seating cube on both sides and carries the back bar with its two hard polyurethane rolls. Elevated above the floor on plastic wheels, the formally and technically sophisticated construction is a sculpture for sitting—perfect, concise, iconic. (Arthur Rüegg)