One of the true greats of Italian design, Cassina have continued to define contemporary design furniture for over 90 years. That’s right – the Utrecht armchair was as fiercely coveted in the 1930s as it is today. And while we at est are certainly no strangers to the invention and innovation of Cassina (seemingly not an issue of est magazine goes by without us pining over a new discovery – this edition it was the Tokyo Chair), the sheer calibre of the designers they have collaborated with over the decades and the amount of collections produced is truly impressive.
To celebrate the brand’s lasting legacy and ongoing commitment to keep its products ‘forever actual’, we popped into to Space to explore the current collections in more detail. While choosing just nine pieces from their extensive Cassina product library would have been a feat, luckily Cassina have done the hard work for us with their MutAzioni (Mutations) project. Celebrating nine of their iconic designs taken from over 90 years of history, the selection focuses on designs that are synonymous with contemporary design yet have endured as a Cassina classic unchanged throughout the years. Peering through the MutAzioni collection, we recognised a frequently recurring favourites at est hq as well as a couple of previously undiscovered gems. Now we just have to find the perfect home (perhaps more like a gallery space) to house them all in…
Casiers Standard cupboards by Le Corbusier, Jeanneret, Perriand I Maestri Collection (1920’s)
Created by two titans of contemporary design, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, these cupboards were the first of their kind – an approach to office decor that was modular, rather than locked. In 1978 another luminary, Charlotte Perriand adapted the original container system to produce with Cassina, adding further design kudos to an already distinct piece. Today the Casiers Standard appears as an evolved version, still perfectly-suited to changing office environments and needs.
MB1 Quartet armchair by Mario Bellini I Contemporanei Collection (1967)
Mario Bellini turned the traditional armchair design on its head with the MB1 Quartet, bringing together the armchair’s four independent cushions with a large belt to drive the chair’s structure. And let us just say, it’s not any old belt – available in hardy fabric or a contrast of soft saddle and natural leather, this elegant design detail becomes both a functional solution and a distinctive feature of the piece.
Black Red and Blue chair (Zeilmaker version) by Gerrit T. Rietveld I Maestri Collection (1920’s)
Initially dubbed the ’slat chair’, this highly unique piece began as a prototype expressing the concept of spatial organisation through the monochrome tones of its elements. While the following years saw the chair produced in a Mondrian-esque primary colour palette, the current Black Red and Blue chair returns to its roots with a black and dark green frame in this edition. Our only dilemma would be whether to treat this as something to sit on or a sculpture piece – both feel perfectly reasonable.
Utrecht armchair by Gerrit T. Rietveld I Maestri Collection (1935)
The separation of structural elements and shapes gives the Utrecht armchair its unique, angular shape. Long-beloved by interior designers, stylists and lovers of good design in general, the armchair now comes in a myriad of colours and contemporary fabrics, as well as an eye-catching zig zag stitch option. And let us just tell you – despite what its geometric frame might suggest, this is a wonderfully comfortable chair. Our only issue with this chair is our reluctance to get back up from spending time curled up in it.
Doge table by Carlo Scarpa | Simon Collezione (1968)
While it may have debuted in 1968 as part of the ‘Ultrarazionale’ collection – a breakaway from the previous Rationalism movement – the Doge table is hardly locked in its time. The floating tops (originally in glass but now available in Carrara or Marquina marble) and grid-like framing give the Doge a timeless industrial appeal – sure to suit both the cutting-edge contemporaries it was originally imagined for and more conservative spaces.
Wink chaise-longue by Toshiyuki Kita I Contemporanei Collection (1980)
Immediately recognisable for its ironic Mickey Mouse ears, the Wink chaise-longue is an effervescent addition to the MutAzioni collection, capturing colour and play in its highly responsive form. Every part of the Wink’s form seems to spring and bend around your movements, making it both iconic design piece and a go-to informal resting/reading nook.
Met sofa system by Piero Lissoni I Contemporanei Collection (1990)
Indicative of the straightforward, often square forms that defined 1990s furniture design, the Met sofa lends an orderly, sleek aesthetic that continues to remain relevant over 25 years later. Originally advertised as “designed to be assembled freely in their environment, always resulting in impeccable elegance” (which we must admit sounds like a high-end version of IKEA), the Met collection holds true to its roots, proving simplicity is truly timeless and always a good investment.
Leggera Chair by Gio Ponti I Contemporanei Collection (1952)
Regarded by Gio Ponti as one of his ‘three masterpieces’ (the others being the Prelli Tower in Milan and the Concattedrale in Taranto), the Leggera chair is a pure expression of shape and balance. An icon of 1950s design, it reflects Cassina’s longstanding dedication to craftsmanship and collaboration while its emphasis on material and shape makes it an enduring favourite within the Cassina archives.