20 years of Maui, a design iconic chair by Vico Magistretti
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of one of Kartell’s most iconic, amazing and revolutionary products: the Maui chair designed by Vico Magistretti in 1996. Maui was the world’s first example of an injection moulded plastic chair whose profile thickness and leg joints recall those of a bentwood chair.
In the early 90’s, Kartell research and technology managed to come up with a highly innovative yet enduring project, thanks to the sobriety and elegance of Magistretti’s design. Even today, Maui lives on as a design classic and is one of the company’s bestselling products: in 20 years it has sold more than 1,500,000 pieces worldwide and has branched out to become an authentic chair family: Maui, Maui on castors, Maui soft.
Designed in the two year period of 1995 and 1996, the Maui chair was a protagonist of design research in the nineties; a far cry from the pretentious aesthetic of the previous decade and unfailingly elegant, it represented the first example of a new era of plastic single mould seats. Indeed, Maui was the world’s very first single mould chair in plastic (batch-dyed polypropylene), devoid of any ribbing, tracery, metallic supports or reinforcing structures to support the backrest. The ergonomic and comfortable structure, which traces a double curved line at the point where backrest and seat meet, is affixed to chrome-plated steel legs and has bluntly cut edges to accentuate the thickness of its material.
“Kartell is very engaging. I love to chat with all the people working on my projects”. These words were uttered by Vico Magistretti, the master of Italian design who loved mass production and the technology behind it; who enjoyed working in a team with “people from the industry” and who was one of the main players responsible for the international success of Italian design, born of a special alchemy between designers and entrepreneurs.
Vico Magistretti expressed his creativity as an architect and designer through highly elegant and understated shapes, timeless constructions and objects that continue to be on trend today, owing to their extreme formal simplicity. Apparently simple, that is. A simple result stemming from an idea that is equally refined and ingenious, from a realization that is both avant-garde and innovative. Magistretti designed the sort of objects he wanted to be surrounded with, things he wanted in his own home, objects designed for home living and real people, far removed from any concept of artwork or one-off creations.
Thanks to the clarity and farsightedness of this philosophy, today Maui still graces homes throughout the world with its discreet elegance, transcending any passing style or fashion.