Designed in the '80s and produced in the '90s, this Robot chest of drawers was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta for Italian manufacturer Alias. It's got a couple of surprises.
Looking closer, you can see the drawers have exposed box joints, which were still considered cool at the time—and are not contained within casework. So you think Hey, that's weird. Then you see this strange wooden tube on the front, up top, and think that's weird too.
Well, the first surprise is that the drawers don't open the way you'd think they would.
The second surprise, which explains the tube, is that the top flips its lid.
As for what provides the structure for this casework-free design, you have to go around to the back.
Here we can see the drawers require a manufacturing complication to accommodate the steel column. And you'll note that these unseen parts of the drawer do not have box joints, just butt joints. I believe this confirms that the box joints we do see are a deliberate style element.
Now back to this fold-out podium stand, which I found puzzling; I figured this piece is maybe 60" tall, which makes the height of the unfolding surface awkward. However, the photos are deceiving—the piece is actually a good deal smaller. Let's look at Botta's original sketch:
As you can see, the flip-out surface is around waist height. And the actual dimensions of the piece are listed as 35cm (13.8") square and just 120cm (47.2") tall. The platform is actually meant to be a writing table.
From poking around on vintage furniture sites, it looks like a Robot in good condition is in the €7,500 to €10,000 (USD $8,118 to $10,824) range.
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