Award-winning design and its makers: the chair “Piuma”

In February, 39 experts from all over the world convened in Essen to assess thousands of objects for the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2017 in a process spanning several days. Only designs that won over the jury with their high design quality were awarded the sought-after distinction “Red Dot”, and the best of them received the highest award “Red Dot: Best of the Best” – among them: the chair “Piuma” by Kartell, designed by Piero Lissoni.

Innovative material
As exemplified in the 19th century by Michael Thonet and his back then novel chairs based on a bentwood technique, chairs as pieces of furniture are always an expression of the technical possibilities of their time. The design of Piuma was preceded by research into a unique injection moulding process as this chair, designed by Piero Lissoni, is made of a complex thermoplastic polymer compounded with carbon.

This innovative material is marked by a very high mechanical rigidity and yet possesses an extreme lightness. Thanks to these qualities it offers many possibilities in the design and shaping of furniture. Piuma has thus emerged with a reduced material thickness of a maximum of just 2 mm and a weight of only 2.4 kg. Beholders of the chair are fascinated by its minimalist flowing design idiom. Viewed from any angle, it showcases a harmonious interplay of lines that is further underlined by the special material used.

Thanks to this material, Piuma is not only incredibly hard-wearing, but also suitable for flexible use including in outdoor areas. An unusual material mix and a specially developed injection moulding process thus have led to a congenially designed, state-of-the-art chair.

Red Dot: Best of the Best for Piuma
The Red Dot jury stated: „This chair incorporates an extraordinary advancement as it successfully pushes boundaries. It merges as light a weight as possible with high rigidity in a remarkably innovative manner. Extremely light yet hard wearing, Piuma is highly flexible and comfortable in use. Based on innovations in material and manufacturing process, it convinces with an appealing shape. Embodying a classic form, its design has emerged as a contemporary reinterpretation for the ambit of everyday use.” The jury awarded the Red Dot: Best of the Best for this outstanding design achievement. Red Dot spoke with the designer Piero Lissoni.
Red Dot: What was your goal when you designed Piuma?
Piero Lissoni: The closest thing to this chair’s lightness and durability is, paradoxically, to use an evocative image, an eggshell. I embarked on this project with Kartell by looking at this incredible example given to us by nature. Thanks to its shape, an egg is extremely efficient. This was the inspiration behind the Piuma design.

What inspires you?
Piero Lissoni: I’m really influenced by culture. In Europe and in Italy, we have an incredibly rich heritage and different languages. I like to, in a positive sense, contaminate and be contaminated as much as I can.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?
It’s like I am walking on a tightrope and every step could be the one where I fall.