the midcentury saw the rise of the cocktail chair: smaller, lighter and easy to move around when a few more guests arive. maybe the italians did it best, because the tradition of the „aperitivo“ asked for it anyway. but also because italian companies in particular were very experimental in the 60s: new materials, new production processes and bold designs. a fine example is the company “ipe” (an acronym for „imbottiture prodotti espansi“ – meaning “expansive cushion products”). located near bologna, they worked as one of the very first companies with polyurethane, a chemical material that was highly innovative for those years since it was soft and tough. And of course much cheaper than the time-consuming manual processing of springs, horsehair, feather down and other materials.
the first new products by “ipe”, the kosmo and mercury armchairs, were exhibited, highly successfully, at the first edition of milan’s international furniture fair in 1961. designer rito valla (1911-1991), trained at the academy of fine arts in bologna and worked as a sculptor in the novecento expressionist style, realising sculptures, statues and monuments.
also by rito valla are the smaller “panchetto” reclining chairs. they can be transformed into stools by adjusting the back rest, so they provide for a very flexible usage. the straight and lightweight frame structure is made from lacquered metal. the paddings are reupholstered in an elegant brass-golden cotton velvet cold „may occur“ by raf simons for kvadrat (Harald 3, color 0443). The upholstery is also covered with this velvet on the underside and the backrests are sewn with hand stitching.
set of three “panchetto’ reclining chairs by rito valla for ipe bologna, italy, 1960s.