In an effort to top Gio Ponti's Superleggera ("super lightweight") chair, Swiss designer Oskar Zieta used two production methods Ponti could never have dreamed of in 1957: Laser-cutting and FiDU.
FiDU is a German acronym for Freie Innen Druck Umformung, "free internal pressure forming" in English. It's essentially hydroforming, but using air as the inflator. Zieta, who developed the method, used it to create the aluminum frame for his handsome Ultraleggera chair.
The seat and backrest are laser-cut aluminum, and careful design yielded an overall weight of 1,660 grams (3.66 pounds) vs. Ponti's 1,700 grams (3.75 pounds).
You could argue that shaving 40 grams off of something is a parlor trick, but there's more to this chair than that--particularly for Industrial Design students, who should definitely watch the attendant product video. It checks a lot of boxes for what would get you high marks on one of your school presentations:
- It discusses and demonstrates an understanding of the chosen material
- It cites the trendy natural sources of inspiration (shells, skeletons, sentences like "we admired the wings of dragonflies," etc.)
- In addition to describing its basic utility, it highlights a sort of bonus benefit experienced by the user when the chair is not serving its primary function, i.e. an offline consideration, which is that it's exceptionally easy to move around
- It demonstrates eco-friendliness and ease of recycling
- It cites performance testing numbers
- It demonstrates use cases across different age groups
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If your own presentation featured all of the same elements, it'd be a hard-nosed professor indeed who'd give you a bad grade. (Just don't mention that you're setting out to top Gio Ponti.)
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