Italian designer Cini Boeri began her career in the 1950s, alongside Achille Castiglioni, Anna Castelli Ferrieri and Vico Magistretti. It was the early, heady days of industrial design, when experimentation and wonder were part of every project as Italy forged its place as the world's design super power.

Although for many the Ghost chair is more recognisable than the designer who created it, for designers, Cini Boeri's exploration into material and technique has set a precedent for practice that continues to inspire designers today, including Patricia Urquiola whose rigour and materiality hold an affectionate affinity. So it's ironic that this year marks 30 years for the most famous of her designs, the Ghost chair, she fondly refers to as the chair you can't see.

The celebrated Ghost chair manufactured by Fiam and designed by Cini Boeri.

The celebrated Ghost chair manufactured by Fiam and designed by Cini Boeri.

Back in 1987 with the help of Italian furniture group Fiam, Cini had an idea for a chair that would push the boundaries of glass and also rekindle her interest in furniture. Tired of designing sofas and chairs, she was keen to create the world's first piece of furniture made from one sheet of cast glass bent at very high temperature, with no welds, seams, bolts or glue. The experiment developed with the ingenuity of Fiam, a two-year process that required know-how, trust and also patience. 

I designed this chair, with its ghostly transparency, at a time when I was terribly tired of designing armchairs and sofas... So I said to myself, let’s make one you can’t see!
— Cini Boeri

Today the Ghost chair represents more than just a moment in history, it's also a reminder that the collaboration between designer and manufacturer, that trailblazing process of making, is the hidden ingredient of original design, the part of the mixture that catches the eye, even if we don't quite know why. 

During the Milan Furniture Fair this week, Fiam launched Ghost, in a miniature 'Ghost Mini' version too, the Pop Mirror collection, their first collaboration with Marcel Wanders, plus new works by Patrick Jouin, Studio Bartoli Design and Studio Klass.

To follow all the latest from the Milan Furniture Fair as it happens, visit the Space Milan News feed here.

Fiam Italia is available from Space Furniture – Australia – and Space Furniture – Asia.