Artist/Designer: Michele De Lucchi
b. 1951, Ferrara, Italy
Title: First Chair (Set of Four) 1983
Medium: Painted wood, metal, and rubber
Dimensions: 35"h x 23" x 19.5" each
Manufacturer: Memphis/Milano 1985
Details: On the underside of each seat is a stamp printed in white ink: Memphis Milano, Michele De Lucchi 1983, Made in Italy; one chair with masking tape inscribed: Display Dept. Bloomingdale's imported approximately twenty First Chairs for their "Ecco L'Italia" event in 1985. A Bloomingdale's executive acquired these four for his personal collection. Chairs are in good condition consistent with age; some scratches in wood seats and balls, and very minor scuffing to metal parts.
Notes from the Archive: In September 1985, Bloomingdale's in New York opened "Ecco L'Italia," a seven-week event that displayed Italy's classic and modern designs in everything from fashion to home furnishings. The New York Times called the enterprise "A Celebration Con Brio of Italian Creativity." The more than 1700 individuals who attended the festive, black-tie opening included famous designers from Italy and beyond, among them Ettore Sottsass, Barbara Radice, Aldo Cibic, Emilio Pucci, Michael Graves, and Massimo and Lella Vignelli. "Ecco La Casa" was the title of a series of model rooms that included a striking design by Memphis designer and member of Sottsass Associati Aldo Cibic, which was furnished with Memphis First Chairs, patterns, wallpaper and rugs. The First Chairs were additionally displayed throughout the store and in the windows.
The First Chair is the most popular product in the Memphis collection. This historic design is included in all major international museum design collections, including the Vitra Design Museum, the Design Museum in London, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1984, when an initial handful arrived in the US, there was a feeling of hope and optimism that New Design and especially Memphis would finally gain wide acceptance. Still, tentative visitors were almost afraid to sit on a chair that looked so different: balls for armrests and a disk for a back. But they soon learned to sit with a bit of a slouch, elbows resting on top of the balls; the movable backrest offered optimum comfort.
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