Designer Marcel Wanders and manufacturer Magis made news last year during Milan Design Week when Wanders released his intriguing Cyborg Chair. The provocative name references everything from robots to artificial intelligence, but with specific regard to Wanders’ piece, it evokes the combination wicker/plastic construction as, like a Cyborg, it combines seemingly disparate parts. Cyborg and Wanders are back in the news this week with Magis’ slight tweaking of the concept: the new Cyborg is entirely made of translucent polycarbonate.
Cyborg Chair. Designed by Marcel Wanders. Manufactured by Magis.
Marcel Wanders’ Cyborg Derives Its Distinctive Personality From 100% Plastic
It's clear that the concept behind Cyborg is dear to Wanders’ heart (and brain): “Fictional cyborgs are portrayed as a synthesis of organic and synthetic parts. Often their presence calls into question the difference between humans and machines as concerned with morality, free will, and empathy.”
From there, the discussion teeters into flighty philosophical notions like “can machines be made to think?” but for Wanders the concept serves as a metaphor for creativity, free play, and deriving newness from an environment in which “There are no new ideas left.”
The Cyborg is thus the perfect symbol for the kind of odd juxtaposition that, for Wanders, helps spawn something unprecedented. This is overt in the original Cyborg chair, but a little more subtle in the latest incarnation.
For all that, however, I rather prefer the Cyborg of 2012. Its 100% polycarbonate construction gives it a sleek, slim, and dare I say sexy aesthetic reminiscent of such Modern marvels as Cini Boeri’s Ghost Chair or JCDC’s 25 Acrylic Chairs. And if you look carefully, it does possess the kind of odd juxtaposition evocative of the Cyborg—the transition halfway up between solid and transparent.
And besides, what really makes the piece a “Cyborg” in my view is its incredibly lifelike silhouette—Wanders has given this piece a slightly forward inclination that deeds it a rare energy and dynamism. It almost looks as if it might take matters into its own hands and, exiting stage left, venture off to discover first hand all the quirks of the human race.
About the Manufacturer: Founded in 1976 by Italian businessman Eugenio Perazza, Magis is “a giant international design laboratory.” By hiring “leading global designers” such as Zaha Hadid, Tom Dixon, and Phillipe Starck, Magis maintains its reputation for “technological sophistication” and “good intellectual capital.” As one of the first furniture companies to highlight plastic, Magis still continues to research the possibilities of this material while also experimenting with others such as die-cast aluminum and wood. A factory-free organization, Magis is able to continually work on R&D activities by outsourcing its manufacturing. Magis also produces a line of furniture and accessories for children called Me Too.