"Superlight" chair


Frank O. Gehry ( American, 1929 )


Emeco ( American, 1944 )

designed 2004
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General Description

Frank Gehry's design for the Superlight represents his most recent and successful effort to create a chair with lightweight, minimal construction which echoes his architectural work in both a technical and material sense. The seat and back, formed of a single panel of bent and brushed aluminum, wraps around a tubular aluminum frame which, owing to its delicacy and hinge mount, allows the chair to react to the sitter's weight with a gentle swaying motion, suggesting what at first seems a wholly precarious perch belying the chair's ability to sustain 750 pounds of weight. Weighing approximately 6.5 pounds, the chair's balanced engineering and name points to its namesake, the Superleggera chair of 1957, designed by Gio Ponti. Unlike Ponti's chair constructed largely of wood, the tubular construction of Gehry's design more appropriately offers a reference to another innovative "super light" of the mid-century - the tube-frame or Superleggera construction of Italian sports cars. Like an automobile, the chair's structure, or frame, and surface, or skin, neatly unite to meet the functional and aesthetic requirements of the whole.

Excerpt from

Kevin Tucker, DMA unpublished material, [2005.57], 2008.

Web Resources

  • Vimeo
    Watch a video of Frank Gehry discussing his design of the "Superlight" chair.

  • Vitra Design Museum
    See a Gio Ponti Superleggera chair.

  • SFMoma
    See another Gehry "Superlight" chair.