Catifa 53

Italian based Arper emerged in the late 80s with a design team whose pedigree was in fine hand-crafted leather chairs. Building on this reputation and the consequent popularity of its products-as well as an expanding marketplace and, thus, changing demands from consumers-the company evolved during the 90s into one of today’s foremost manufacturers of polypropylene-injection-molded chairs.

Catifa 53. Designed by Lievore Alther Molina. Manufactured by Arper.

Over the past ten years, Arper has collaborated with heavyweight designers, such as Jean Marie Massaud and Lievore Alther Molina, to develop a line of chairs for home and office that has earned iconic status. But perhaps foremost among said line is Catifa 53 (2001) by Lievore Alther Molina.

The force behind this design trio, Alberto Lievore, is a Spaniard (Barcelona), by way of Argentina (Buenos Aires), by way of Italy, and he brings these diverse cultural influences to bear on his work. Lievore “works on the basis of a wide concept of design, understood as a rigorous, integrationist and cultural discipline, as an activity that seeks for the essence of things.” This would seem to suggest that part of a designer’s challenge is to distill the influence of a given cultural moment into a piece that will compel and endure.

Catifa 53

Officially marketed as a “task chair,” Catifa 53 fits the bill: it works as either the slickest high-tech office chair; the most stylish, lightweight/portable home dining chair; or as the signature feature of the coolest restaurant ensemble. Made of the aforementioned moulded polypropylene, the chair’s ultra-thin profile belies its impressive rigidity and strength. The base and legs are simplicity personified: the four angled shafts distribute weight with arthropodal precision. In fact, the chair resembles a kind of four-legged spider and might be said to function in much the same way-precise movement, deceptive strength, and economical use of space. Also, Catifa 53 comes in almost as many varieties as the class arachnida. Choose your base material (chrome-finish steel, satin-finish stainless steel, or aluminium); leg style (4-leg, trestle with or without wheels, sled, or five-star); and seat finish (mono- or bi-colour polypropylene; or upholstered in leather, "faux" leather, fabric, or suede.

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