Albini’s dilemma was that the bookcase is high strung. The pressure from its metal struts snaps the base or uprights if the base is made of wood (as in the prototype) and the shelves are loaded. Working with the architect’s son, Marco, who directs the Franco Albini Foundation and the masters of competition sailboat production at Luca Brenta, Cassina began, through many iterations, to replicate the 70-year-old prototype excavated from Albini’s basement and, as brand director Gianluca Armento puts it, “torture it with testing.”
Drawing on engineering techniques from the sailing world and suspension bridges, Cassina finally made the base in metal but clad it in ash wood; replaced the luxurious crystal shelves with high-quality safety glass; and to up its load capacity, placed a circular cross-section bar above its diagonal struts.
Today, this high-fidelity Veliero—made in a limited edition of 50—represents a hybrid of engineering and visual poetry. At the very least, Armento points out, it is a “seaworthy vessel”. In fact, Albini was a sailor and his son has said that the torsion in the wooden uprights and base of the Veliero prototype would creak like a wooden sailboat at night. “But,” Armento says, “maybe they were dreaming of a regatta. Today, the Cassina Veliero is majestically silent.”
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