At #NeoCon09: Curva-licious Contract Seating by Segis and Bartoli Design

In my recent post about new lines of carpet for the Mohawk Group, I commented on the NeoConian tendency toward the unified front; sort of a “Dream Team” for design, this phenomena sees the joining of forces to develop and market excellent product. As industry giants overseas prepare for #NeoCon09, we’re seeing the Italian version as well: the union of Bartoli Design and Segis, resulting in catchy contract designs like the Highway Series of modular benches and seating.

Highway Loop. Designed by Bartoli Design for Segis.

Bartoli is a consortium in its own right. The Monza, Italy-based firm brings together superstar designers Albertina Amadeo, Paolo Crescenti, Giulio Ripamonte, and no less than three Bartolis: Anna, Carlo, and Paolo. It’s a formidable front and, teamed with Segis, they’ve created eye-catching pieces much lauded at this year’s Salone, including Meet-Me-Wheel, Iron, and Rock Lounge. They’re also responsible for Highway, originally released in 2007 but replete with new styles for 2009’s exhibition season: Highway Loop, Highway N, and Highway Q/R.


Highway N. Designed by Bartoli Design for Segis.


Highway N. Designed by Bartoli Design for Segis.


Highway Q/R. Designed by Bartoli Design for Segis.

The additions are similar in concept to the original series but different in execution. Still constructed of ultra-durable materials (internal steel frame, fire-resistant polyurethane foam, stainless-steel legs), the newer pieces have a decidedly whimsical aesthetic that departs somewhat from the earlier pieces. Like the name implies, the Loop module is a flat expanse interrupted by a dynamic curli-cue. The modules join at the apex of the wave, thus allowing for a continuous plane of bench seating that’s “layered” backwards in space. The configuration adds variety to the usual linear arrangements of public seating, while also creating an unusual and captivating aesthetic. Highway N is a chaise lounge/armchair whose flat back and seat come together via an abrupt undulation, mimicking a sine curve or an inversion of the universal highway symbol for “curves ahead.” Reminiscent of the playful, single-piece construction of pieces like the Hob Chair or Arconas’ Connex sofa, N is an engaging commercial seating solution. And speaking of the Connex Sofa, Highway Q/R partakes of a similar asynchronicity. Like the ink blot patterns of Lees Carpets’ Sixth Sense, Q/R looks like a gigantic splotch of paint. Sprawling in three different directions, the modules facilitate interconnected amoeba-shaped seating (the configuration takes me back to dreaded high school chemistry and the phenomena called “mitosis”). Apart from the innovative and bizarre aesthetic, Q/R also makes wise use of public space.

Segis’ new pieces will certainly be in high demand after the world gets a good long look at #NeoCon09. This exposure—coupled with customizable options like upholstery in fabric or simulated leather (or a combination of the two), different foam thicknesses and densities, and multiple colors (or multi-colored combinations)—is sure to keep the ’09 Highway Series on everybody’s radar.

Leave a Reply