It’s almost two centuries since Michel Thonet began working on techniques in his Boppard, Germany plant applying pressure and heat in order to create what has since become known as bentwood furniture. And it’s been more than a century and a half since he and his sons achieved the epitome of the technique’s expression in 1855’s Thonet Model #14, perhaps the most iconic chair in the history of A&D, and a crucial inspiration for countless workers of wood from Aalto to Le Corbusier to the Eames to Ross Lovegrove. A mere eight years back the piece also inspired designer Romeo Sozzi, who gave it a contemporary dash of panache and a luxurious upholstery of velvet or leather to manifest as the alluring Bilou Bilou.
Bilou Bilou Chair. Designed by Promemoria.
An Homage to a Classic with its Own Distinctive Personality
Strictly speaking, Bilou Bilou is not simply a re-working of the Thonet Chair. In fact, some say that its equally important forerunner is a Louis XVI French antique dining chair, but Sozzi certainly has employed enough of the original’s lovely bulbous back, its revelatory display of negative space, its simple circles perched atop insistently rigid legs... to justify the comparison. In contrast to Thonet’s organicism, however, Bilou Bilou is steadfastly circular, its geometries evocative of Cubism or hyper-realism more than the organic curves of nature. That, and its plush unitard of decadent upholstery in a rainbow of colors, situate it squarely in the new millennium. Manufacturer Promemoria has given it an enhanced purview and thus taken it into this second decade of said new millennium with their just opened NYC location.
About the Manufacturer: Artist turned designer Romeo Sozzi founded Promemoria in 1988 to design and manufacture luxury furnishings with a pronounced connection to the great lineage of Italian craftsmanship. A tradition of artisanal woodworking runs deep through the Sozzi line: from building carriages for local nobility, to restoring fine antique furniture, to crafting custom cabinetry, the family has always had a way with wood. Today, Promemoria’s repertoire also includes bronze, leather, silk, cashmere, cotton, and velvet; the company creates desks, cabinets, tables, chairs, poufs, beds, and lighting, each of which is “studied and refined to the last detail, creating something utterly exclusive.”