Design Knowledge Intermediary
Model 4801

Model 4801 Chair, 1963
Kartell, Italy

Joe Colombo

Bent and pressed plywood with polyester varnish

W 72 cm, H 58.2 cm, D 65.7 cm


At first glance the glossy surface and bright colour might make you think this chair is made of plastic, especially since both the designer and the manufacturer are well-known for their 1960s plastic furniture. In fact, the chair is made of just three bent and pressed plywood elements simply slotted together. Any sense of the material as wood is obliterated by the coat of polyester varnish, making it appear entirely synthetic.

The chair is formed from three bent and pressed plywood elements slotted together, the whole painted with orange polyester varnish.

In 1964 Kartell first produced this chair and the first all-plastic chair, also designed by Colombo. This chair, therefore, sits at the cusp of the shift away from plywood (the material-of-choice for advanced designers since the 1930s) towards the new plastics. In this chair, the old technology is masquerading as the new technique.