The Chair That Shocked the World Is Still Stirring Up Controversy at 50

B&B Italia celebrates the 50th anniversary of Gaetano Pesce’s Up chair by launching new colorways for the voluptuous seat.

The idea for the Up chair came to Gaetano Pesce in the shower. “I had the sponge in my hand,” he said. “When I pressed the sponge, it shrank, and when I released it, it returned to its original volume.” This visual inspired him to create the pop-up polyurethane chair—versions of which now reside in design museums around the world, including the MoMA. Read on as we take a look at the Up chair’s storied past.

The original Up chair, designed in 1969, was manufactured by C&B Italia (now B&B Italia). It was made from polyurethane, arrived flat, and rose to its final shape with the help of Freon gas.

The original Up chair, designed in 1969, was manufactured by C&B Italia (now B&B Italia). It was made from polyurethane, arrived flat, and rose to its final shape with the help of Freon gas.

Photo: B&B Italia

Gaetano Pesce (sitting) and Pierre Cardin with the Up chair in 1969.

Gaetano Pesce (sitting) and Pierre Cardin with the Up chair in 1969.

Courtesy Gaetano Pesce

The Up5 chair and the accompanying Up6 ottoman launched 50 years ago, in 1969. The furnishings were made of polyurethane—a revolutionary material at the time. The Up chair could be compressed to one-tenth its volume for shipping, and then it would permanently pop into shape once opened. Yet material innovation wasn’t the chair’s most noteworthy feature—that would be its shape.

An image from C&B Italia's 1969 promotional campaign for the Up chair.

An image from C&B Italia’s 1969 promotional campaign for the Up chair.

Photo: B&B Italia

See the full story on Dwell.com: The Chair That Shocked the World Is Still Stirring Up Controversy at 50
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