Just take the outdoor seating in metal rod: already, starting in the 1920s, all the way to the end of the 1960s, wood and iron were the materials most often used by designers. And steel, which from the end of the 1800s was one of the most common materials in architecture, also took on a leading role in furnishings some time later.
So it should come as no surprise that one of the first examples of a chair made with steel rods dates back to 1952: the Bertoia Side Chair, created by Harry Bertoia and produced by Knoll International, is an item made almost entirely with a pattern of steel bars.
Oggi quell’idea viene riproposta da moltissimi brand. Da Pedrali, già nel 2015 con la collezione Nolita, divenuta ben presto un best seller, alle novità 2021 lanciate anche da Kartell, con la prima linea outdoor.
Today the same idea is being revived by many brands. From Pedrali, already in 2015, with the Nolita collection, which soon became a bestseller, to the new creations launched in 2021 by Kartell, with its first outdoor furniture line.
The merit lies in the material itself, ideal for its performance and strength – we often come across the iconic Nolita models in the outdoor areas of restaurants and hotels – or in residential applications, thanks to steel’s intrinsic lightness and adaptability to different styles (outdoors and elsewhere).
Here’s a selection of proposals, including Italian and international names.
Nolita by CPM Design per Pedrali
Transparency as presence, but without grandstanding: the seat is there, but it does not invade the surrounding space. This is the revolution already triggered in 2015 by the company Pedrali based in Mornico al Serio (Bergamo), with the presentation of Nolita, an innovative “transparent” chair created by CMP Design. The aim? To furnish without obstructing the view.
Made entirely in steel, Nolita gives concrete form to concepts of transparency and lightness, in optical and visual terms, while facilitating movement and use. Ideal for an outdoor urban café in which to enjoy a brunch or an aperitif, a terrace or a private garden. “In large numbers, these furnishings run the risk of becoming an overwhelming presence with respect to the context,” says one of the designers, Simone Mandelli. To avoid this risk, the studio has imagined a product with simple, iconic forms, where the structure in steel tubing brings “visual rhythm and gentle proportions.”
Apero by Martin Drechsel per EMU
The typical design of German wooden chairs gets a contemporary reinterpretation. How? Thanks to the know-how of EMU in metalworking, the seat and back in metal rod offer visual lightness, in a continuous, sinuous game of light between horizontal and vertical lines, projecting an intriguing motif onto surfaces. The minimal graphic look makes the furniture adapt discreetly to any type of space or style. The collection includes chairs, armchairs and stools, which can be outfitted with a slip-proof seat cushion. The chair and armchair can be stacked, up to 6 units, while the stools can be stacked for storage, two by two.
HiRay by Ludovica+Roberto Palomba per Kartell
Kartell too is exploring the use of metal for seating, for the first time, widening its offerings to the use of new materials, a program already in progress last year and now emphasized in 2021. This minor revolution also covers the HiRay outdoor seating created by Ludovica+Roberto Palomba, where the protagonist is metal, in fact. The very new outdoor system is composed of six items: chair, chair with armrests, bistro table, armchair, sofa and side table, in a range of colors: black, brick, green and beige. The cushions are made in material recycled from PET bottles. The workmanship revives the technique of welded wire, creating an essential, functional outdoor collection: joined together, the metal wires stiffen to make the structure, which with its sinuous, organic and transparent forms gives rise to an almost three-dimensional design.
Koki Wire by Pocci + Dondoli per Desalto
Light and natural lines that “move” in space, forming the silhouette of the Koki Wire collection, an evolution of the previous Koki series: a large family composed of a chair, stools and a sofa, designed for outdoor use but also perfect in interiors. The steel rod creates an ethereal body with solid geometry, and a forceful, sinuous graphic image. Also available with a padded seat, or in polyurethane adapted for outdoor use.
Randa by LucidiPevere per Arrmet
A contact point between the world of design and the nautical sector, Randa is a bestselling collection of seating by Arrmet, (re)designed by the duo LucidiPevere. Composed of a chair, an armchair, a lounge chair and a stool in two heights, the collection has a light, summery look, making it perfect for outdoor contexts: the core of the chairs is in coated steel, while the seat is made using nautical rope, a polyester material that gives Randa excellent resistance to dampness, salt air and sunlight. The true novelty is the nude version: without the weave of nautical rope, steel becomes the protagonist of an essential, elegant product, with the added comfort of cushions.
Bolonia by iSiMAR
A stackable chair made in galvanized steel wire, Bolonia is versatile for outdoor, indoor and custom (contract) use. The seat belongs to a larger collection that also includes settees and tables, inspired by Bolonia, one of the virgin beaches of southern Spain. The organic, sinuous lines resemble the waves of the sand dunes of Bolonia, a natural world heritage site since 2001. The result of this design inspired by nature is elegant and very comfortable, ideal for relaxing in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Shade by Et Al. per Sandler Seating
A stackable chair manufactured in Italy, designed by Philippe Nigro for Sandler Seating, Shade is produced by using steel tubing and welded steel rods to create an optical “woven” effect. The seats come in 18 different colors and work perfectly for indoor and outdoor settings, thanks to the presence of cushions with removable covers in waterproof fabric. The collection also includes a bar stool, a lounge chair and another armchair that is ideal for hospitality facilities and public spaces. Shade is part of the Sandler Healthier Hospitals line: it contains no formaldehyde, polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and chemical antimicrobials.
Amitha by Forsix per Gaber
Classic, elegant metal chairs that are also very comfortable, thanks to an ample, welcoming seat in steel tubing. The Amitha collection, designed by Forsix, is an extremely versatile, durable and functional (and stackable, of course) family of outdoor seating. The available color range reprises some of the most often utilized collections of Gaber tables, to guarantee perfect chromatic matching.