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Contessa 1956

Designed 1956

“Swinging home comfort”: this ad slogan from the 1950s springs from the optimistic attitude that was also reflected in design at the time. The upbeat mood and optimism of the age is sadly lacking in today’s overly harmonious and strictly coordinated straight-laced interiors. For Wittmann this represented a great opportunity to breath fresh life into a classic: the contemporary wing backed armchair, Contessa.

The original was the first modern piece of furniture produced by Wittmann after the war: a “sporty piece” raked sharply backwards and firmly upholstered like a sports car seat. Although the wings and armrests are pared right back to the minimum, it still exudes comfort unlike any of the severe Bauhaus classics. The precision of the organically flowing lines is highlighted by leather piping which is available in a choice of eight different colors. Meanwhile the conical slanting legs give the chair character and add a certain nimbleness.

All of the experience built up by the manufacturer over the past 60 years – as well as state-of-the art technology and materials – went into developing this modern-day reedition. Never before has a 1950s classic been so comfortable: the seating comfort is down to the integrated ultra-flat pocket sprung matting, sitting atop criss-crossed elastic webbing, and an ergonomically sprung tubular steel frame that is light years ahead of its predecessors 60 plus years ago. Unlike similar organically-shaped armchairs, the cover is not simply bonded to the scooped seat; instead it is hand upholstered using traditional methods. The demanding standards of hand-craftsmanship can be seen in various details including the use of different stitching techniques: double-needle quilting, fell seaming and joining seams alternate to provide perfect elasticity or firmness, precisely where they are needed.

The spirit of the “good old days” has provided inspiration for what could be the piece of choice for the micro-apartment of the future.

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