Bardi’s Bowl Chair (1951), built through a combination of standardized and artisanal methods

Published on May 11, 2016

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Designed in 1951 by Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, the Bardi’s Bowl Chair is a semi-spherical seat resting lightly on a metallic ring structure, supported by four legs. Conceived with an essential frame and universal shape, it harmoniously blends into every environment.

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With the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi as design partner standing in for the architect, Arper faces the industrialization process of the Bardi’s Bowl Chair with a creative approach, balancing the interpretation of the original design with contemporary advancements in technique and manufacturing, in order to reflect Bo Bardi’s original vision and to meet the abilities and advantages of industrial production.

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Hand-crafted by highly skilled manufacturers, in a limited and numbered edition of 500, the Bardi’s Bowl Chair collection includes a black leather edition and a fabric version available in 7 different colors, each matching three sets of cushions. The cushions can come in the same color of the shell, in two different color shades or decorated with patterns inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s original sketches.

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To tell the world about Lina Bo Bardi, her works and Arper limited edition of the Bardi’s Bowl Chair, “Lina’s World” was conceived by ginette caron communication design: a sort of keepsake box, in the form of a wooden wagon, with pictures, texts and objects that evoke moments of Lina’s life or symbolize the values that were so important to her.

“Lina’s World” was selected as finalist for the “Miscellaneous Print” category by the jury of the European Design Awards 2014, the most important European award for the graphic design, digital design and illustration. The project was published in the ED-Awards Catalogue 2014, a prestigious international publication that collects the juried selection of the best of European communication design industry, divided in 34 categories.

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Besides sustaining the world tour of the exhibition Lina Bo Bardi: Together, the production of the Bowl Chair is aimed to financially support the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi.

The first cultural project focuses on the figure of the Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi. It originates from the similarities between Arper’s vision and the values expressed by the artist through her work: the pursuit of the essential and the authentic, the preciousness of a sober style and the ability to innovate placing people at the center of every project.

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Identifying with the spirit of her design, Arper not only is promoting and sustaining the world exhibition “Lina Bo Bardi: Together”, but is also producing a limited series of 500 pieces of the Bardi’s Bowl Chair, whose profits from sale are also aimed to financially support the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi of São Paulo, custodian and promoter of her valuable work.

This project expresses Arper’s growing commitment to a creative approach that is open, curious and sensitive to the culture of design.

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Balancing the worlds of industrialized fabrication and the individualized object, Lina Bo Bardi envisioned the Bowl Chair as flexible in structure while universal and essential in form. The architect introduced a new perspective in the 1950s design world, placing human interaction in the heart of her creation.

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Modest in its form, yet revolutionary for its time, the Bardi’s Bowl Chair transformed the way people sat. As opposed to the prevailing angular forms and upright chairs, Lina Bo Bardi introduced rounder shapes encouraging a natural and more relaxed posture, testifying a cultural change in acting and living: informal, receptive and focused on being rather than appearing.

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Only two original iterations exist: a black leather Bowl Chair produced in 1951, considered most representative of Bo Bardi’s vision, and another, probably fabricated later, with a slightly smaller transparent shell and bright red pillows. Both now reside in São Paulo at the “Casa de Vidro”, the Glass House, Lina Bo Bardi’s former residence and now seat of the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi.

The several sketches preserved at Casa de Vidro clearly indicate that Lina Bo Bardi conceived the Bowl Chair to be realized also in textile with different finishes and colors, that reflect the architect’s vibrant spirit and the creative symbiosis of her two cultures, Italian and Brazilian.

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In harmony with the architect’s philosophy, Arper embraced the unique opportunity to investigate and interpret one of Lina Bo Bardi’s most celebrated creations combining the same precision and sensitivity that are evident in all of her projects, in the attempt to evoke the spirit of her creation while suiting modern methods of production.

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Lina Bo Bardi was a promoter of handcrafted pieces and of the interaction between Modernism and popular culture. In line with this idea, the Bardi’s Bowl Chair by Arper was built through a combination of standardized and artisanal methods, attempting to preserve Lina Bo Bardi’s craftsmanship while adding Arper technical expertise.

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Compensating for the lack of precise measures and technical details of the original sketches, an intensive dialogue with the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi allowed the in-depth analysis of the original prototype. It was thus possible to evaluate size, interior structure, upholstery detailing (down to the quality and size of the stitching), density of the foam and softness of the seat.

A small-scale prototype was made to explore processes and possible improvements. The original hand-forged iron interior, heavy and inflexible, was replaced with a plastic one: lighter, stronger and more flexible, thus matching the demands of contemporary industrial production and quality control.

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Every detail, down to the small leather covers placed around the round steel frame of the chair to hold it in place, was carefully reinterpreted.

After several months of dialogue, design and testing, a single version of the industrialized Bardi’s Bowl Chair was presented in London at the opening of the exhibition “Lina Bo Bardi: Together” in the fall of 2012: a passionate project, a link between past and future.

Arper

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