Design Feature #20

IN THE HOT SEAT: MARTINO GAMPER’S 100 CHAIRS IN 100 DAYS

Martino Gamper

Written by RMM
Photos by Martino Gamper

A chair is as simple as it gets. Four legs, a seat and something to rest your back on.

We sit on one for at least five to eight hours a day. It’s something as ubiquitous as a cup or a table. But like a cup or a table, we often don’t think about how good design affects our experiences and expectations of a chair.

So can the humble chair transcend its basic purpose of being something to rest upon? Designer Martino Gamper (born 1971) certainly thinks so. In 2006, the Italian-born, London-based designer decided that he wanted to examine how the value and function of the chair changed depending on different contexts.

100 Chairs in 100 Days is a wonderful experiment in transforming limitations into possibilities.


And thus 100 Chairs in 100 Days was born. The exhibition has travelled from London to San Francisco, Milan, Japan and Melbourne and is an exercise in how Gamper could refine the process of making, producing without a perfect, final result. 100 Chairs in 100 Days became a project that was very much about working with restrictions, rather than operating in total freedom. Gamper imposed the following restrictions on himself aside from the 100-day limit:

he had to work with whatever available materials, style or designs of the chairs he found.

Photography ©Tobias Titz

Arne Cubista
(9 September 2007)

Photography ©Martino Gamper & åbäke

From discarded chairs he picked up from London streets and friends’ homes, Gamper assembled what he calls a “three-dimensional sketchbook, a collection of possibilities”. By dismantling and piecing together the ‘best’ parts, the project started off as an investigation into how new, useful chairs could be created by a blending of ideal stylistic and structural elements in his found chairs.

Sonnet Butterfly
(16 August 2006)

Photography ©Martino Gamper & åbäke

In 100 days, chairs sprung forth from his workshop. Reassembled, cobbled together chairs that were poetic and full of wit and humour. A typical plastic garden chair cobbled onto Sori Yanagi’s elegant Butterfly Stool. An old mid-century chair turned on its back, propped up by four candy-cane shaped ‘feet’.

But it was – and is – the 100th chair that is arguably the most important piece in the entire project. Gamper has made it a point to create a new chair in every new host city. This is the 100th chair: fabricated in a single day and, much like his other 99 chairs, made only with found materials, existing structures and designs.

Barbapappa in Vienna
(7 August 2006)

Photography ©Martino Gamper & åbäke

Through his project, Gamper is possibly the scheherazade of chairs. Every chair tells a story and celebrates the geographical, historical and human resonance of design. Even though an object – in this instance, a chair – might be less than perfect or not in use anymore, it is still imbued with memories and emotional value.

Backside
(3 September 2007)

Photography ©Martino Gamper & åbäke

100 Chairs in 100 Days is a wonderful experiment in transforming limitations into possibilities.

By using abandoned, unwanted waste and re-constructing them into useful objects, Gamper creates new identities for his chairs, given meaning to otherwise forgotten objects.