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Steelwood Chair

Magis—The Steelwood chair from Magis is a product of experience—the suppliers who punch the sheet metal for the back, which adroitly supports four legs and a beech wood seat, are among Italy’s most skilled metalworkers. Dwell talked with the manufacturers and the designers, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and learned, among other things, that the chair is designed for easy disassembly. The two materials—metal and wood—can be separated by undoing a few screws and recycled according to type.

The Steelwood chair's imperative component of bent sheet metal sits on the factory floor in a nondescript suburb of northeastern Italy, awaiting a seat and legs.

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    Steelwood Chair: Perimeters

    The next tool makes a perpendicular fold around the sheet’s perimeter, which allows the hard edges to be folded away from the smooth backrest. Parts of this fold will become armrests. “The heart of this project is the back,” says Eugenio Perazza, Magis CEO. “We use an automated process so there’s no manpower except to turn on the machine. The operator can’t make a mistake; he just pushes ‘go.’” Magis, for its part, couldn’t afford mistakes in making the metal-forming molds, which cost about $450,000.

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    Steelwood Chair: Cuts, Curves, Cuts

    The tool that folds the curve of the back of the chair is the most dramatic, but it is no more essential than the others, which trim the edges, cut the holes, and add a final soft angle to the armrests.

  • Steelwood Chair: Fitting Wood

    Four straight legs and a round seat are CNC-milled out of solid beech, bolt holes and all, ready for fixing to the punched and painted steel. As the chair began production in early 2008, the designers were still making final tweaks to bolt fittings, which connect the legs to the back.

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