Is This the World's Most Famous Chair?

palermo chair photo

Photo: functionalfate Palermo

Is this the world's most famous chair? It is certainly the most ubiquitous; spotted everywhere from front porches to cafes to garbage dumps to beaches across the world.

It's not known who designed it but it has a name: the Monobloc, it has a website, a book and it has just had its own exhibition at the International Design Museum in Munich.

balcony chair photo

Photo: functionalfate Berlin

The museum was celebrating it because the chair has certain undeniable design traits: it is universally accessible, mass-manufactured and cheap. It is light, stable, stackable, weatherproof, incredible value for money, omnipresent and anonymous.


Photo: functionalfate New York
It is made in one single production process out of 3 kilos of polypropylene at 200 degrees Celsius, at the rate of one chair every 70 seconds. They cost about $3.00 and are manufactured around the world.

indian chair photo

Photo: functionalfate India

In the West it can be recycled since polypropylene is a thermoplastic and can be recycled if the garbage is properly sorted. However in other parts of the world the price of a plastic chair can equal a day's work, so people try and fix them as best they can.


Photo: functionalfate Paris

This one was so dear to its owner's heart that it got moved along with the rest of the household furnishings.


Photo: functionalfate Oman
designboom has published a mini-history of the plastic chair. The first was made in 1965 by Joe Colombo, then, in 1967 the first monobloc chair was invented by the italian designer Vico Magistretti. Danish designer Verner Panton did a cantilevered one and then in the late 1970's the real thing was first made.

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