At NeoCon 2011: The Orb Chair by Marcello Ziliani for Loewenstein, Inc.

I’m constantly amused by chairs with personality. And—though it’s a rare occurrence, because it’s difficult to pull off well—I’m enchanted by chairs that resemble people, or, at the least, hominid-like personages. The seminal example of this is Konstantin Grcic’s Myto, which, to my eyes, looks like a pint-sized space alien come to earth to inconvenience Bugs Bunny. At NeoCon2011 a new contender in this esoteric realm has emerged: Orb by Loewenstein, Inc.

Orb Chair. Designed by Marcello Ziliani. Manufactured by Loewenstein, Inc.

The Genial, Stackable, Functional Orb

The aptly named Orb is charming in a quirky, off-kilter way. The technopolymer seat is crafted such to resemble a concave dinner plate, creating a familiar yet re-contextualized aesthetic exuding a deft blend of elegance and humor. The single-piece seat features a deep contour (deeper than your average piece of dinner ware) that molds to your backside for a comfortable sit.

Orb Chair. Designed by Marcello Ziliani. Manufactured by Loewenstein, Inc.

But designer Marcello Ziliani didn’t stop there. He also gave the multi-faceted Orb a plethora of base options. The stackable version sports a sled-style base constructed of cast aluminum; while the outdoor version continues the technopolymer theme, as the seat flows into the slim silhouette of the stem which, in turn, spills out onto the floor as a circular pedestal style base.

Orb Chair. Designed by Marcello Ziliani. Manufactured by Loewenstein, Inc.

Orb is one of those pieces that requires a bit of “defamiliarization” on the part of the user. That is to say, though the piece is certainly immediately recognizable as a chair, its formal and aesthetic innovations are such that they challenge our expectations and throw us for the proverbial loop. Once we come back to earth, however, we realize that Orb is firmly and definitively grounded in the present. It’s a versatile and functional chair for a future that is now.

About the Manufacturer: In 1968, Loewenstein founder Hank Loewenstein posed for a pic with a pair of wood and cane chairs that go far towards characterizing the tail end of that era. Since then, Loewenstein, Inc. has parlayed this affinity for Mid-Century Modern into a line of contemporary offerings that showcase the company’s commitment to “quality, service and dependability.” Recent standouts include the Stryde Collection of loungers and tables and the Vinterio line of butcher block style tables.

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