Bringing Back a Forgotten Material

Bringing Back a Forgotten Material

By Paige Alexus / Photos by De La Espada
We’re all familiar with iconic furniture pieces made of fiberglass that were brought to market in the midcentury era—most notably the Eames’ Molded Fiberglass Chair from 1950—but when was the last time you saw a newly designed piece constructed of the dismissed material?

In the 1950s, homeowners loved the perfectly formed shell that was saturated with inconsistent striations, making it a look and silhouette that found its way into countless homes, offices, and commercial spaces. Soon after though, the material quickly became less popular, mainly due to concerns related to unsafe and environmentally irresponsible production. However, one of Italy’s most prolific young designers has taken a dive into the world of fiberglass and has introduced a chair that implements a thoroughly modern way of presenting the classic material. 

Luca Nichetto’s illustrations give us a glimpse into his design process and the various components that went into the development of the Stella Armchair.

At the Shanghai Festival of Design: Commune, Luca Nichetto introduced the Stella Armchair that he designed for De La Espada. Combining fiberglass with solid hardwoods and sleek upholstery, the chair brings together a combination of materials that’s not normally considered. The result is an edgy silhouette that doesn’t hide the fiberglass, but emphasizes it by making it clearly visible as the main support. Nichetto incorporated upholstery and a graphic wooden support to introduce a whole new level of comfort and luxury.  

Along with the black-on-black option shown here, the Stella Armchair is also available in white, with the option to have either color in a glossy or matte finish. For additional freedom, the inner upholstery can be done in various different kinds of fabric or leather, while the base can be fitted with American black walnut (as shown here) or a lighter European ash. 

As a Swedish-Italian designer that grew up in Murano, Nichetto currently has offices in Venice and Stockholm with an established roster of design collaborations within the worlds of architecture, interiors, and product design.   

What we appreciate most about Nichetto is the way he fearlessly plays with classic forms, while always incorporating a modern and adventurous twist that’s filled with personality. No piece can be called "ordinary" and his line with De La Espada continues to evolve with each new introduction.

During the creative process that took place in Nichetto’s Italian office, he manipulated renderings that incorporated illustrative details, showing the various steps that went into the design. 

To see an example of how Nichetto’s creative studio has taken a meticulous yet playful approach to their work, take a moment to check out the "Nichetto Colour System." With an example shown directly below, the Nichetto team has come up with an approach to color that they believe holds a timeless and global connection in which they strive to incorporate into their designs. The whole idea came from a scientific experiment where photographer and visual artist Massimo Gardone took a deep dive into the scientific nature of flowers, leaves, herbs, and other natural elements. Nichetto and his colleagues then created various palettes by interpreting the findings into their own design language.

Inspired by an herbarium, the experiments behind the Nichetto Colour System have helped them incorporate the nature-inspired findings into the choices they make in terms of production materials.  

The pieces are designed in Italy and manufactured in Portugal, where De La Espada’s workshop is known for their high-quality woodworking skills. Shown here is a craftsman at work, carefully sanding the fiberglass shells that are fabricated through multiple steps—from forming a mold to the final piecing together. 

As part of the same launch, Nichetto also came out with a few other standout pieces including the Marlon Rectangular Table, which stands in perfect harmony with the Stella Armchair. The table combines a solid hardwood frame with a top and legs that are made out of marble. Starting with four marble segments, the table is stitched together into one surface, while leaving the wood to show at the intersecting points.

Also from the collection, the frame of the Marlon Rectangular Table is available in American black walnut or American white oak, both with various finishing options including oils, stains, or paint colors. For the legs and top, you can choose from either white Carrara marble or black Negro Marquina marble. 


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