In 1980 Aurelio Zanotta, founder of Zanotta, paid Enzo Mari a visit with a rock climber’s nail, the type that makes the most of crevices in the rock wall to sustain the climber. This was the beginning of the Tonietta chairwhich won the Compasso d’Oro award in 1987. Its designer, architect Enzo Mari, speaks about it in a recent edition of Zanotta Happenings. I cannot stand projects that are conceived the same morning as I cannot tolerate those who come along asking for an idea for the next day… You need thought, research and work to reach a design and create a product. – Enzo Mari

ZH: What lies at the basis of your projects?

EM: Let me give you an example. During the same years, Cesare Cassina too was reasoning on the idea of the rock climber’s nail (he was a mountain enthusiast). He thought of having them produced in forged aluminium, which is highly compressed and very strong. Instead, starting from Aurelio’s idea I thought of making the chair’s legs in die-cast aluminium with differentiated thicknesses and thinner, slightly curved front legs. It took me five years to reach the right thickness and the final design. The assistance of Penati (Head of Zanotta’s Technical Department at the time) with whom I defined every detail to make Tonietta work perfectly was essential. I cannot stand projects that are conceived the same morning as I cannot tolerate those who come along asking for an idea for the next day… You need thought, research and work to reach a design and create a product. The only possible reasons to design an item issue from the intention to clearly communicate a shape and the chair is the simplest shape one can start from: it has four legs, a seat and a back. Tonietta’s pure arch and strong thin legs. The assembly system recalls that of the historical Thonet. The effort focuses on gaining the utmost resistance with the minimum use of material.

Read the full interview at Zanotta Happenings.

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