Magis creates Alessandro Mendini's Proust armchair in plastic

Pomo summer: Italian designer Alessandro Mendini's 1978 Proust armchair, one of the most iconic chairs of the last century and a precursor to Postmodern design, was put into production for the first time by furniture brand Magis.

Alessandro Mendini's Proust armchair produced by Magis in plastic

Mendini originally designed the Proust chair as a one-off piece that he thought could have been used by French author Marcel Proust, who died in 1922 and is considered the father of the modern novel.

Its design combines a Baroque-style shape with a pattern of tiny hand-painted Pointillist coloured dots across its wooden frame and upholstery.

With this mash-up of historical styles, Mendini paved the way for Postmodernism in design. He is described as the "saturnine conceptualist of Italian Postmodernism" by writer and curator Glenn Adamson in Dezeen's guide to the controversial movement.

Alessandro Mendini's Proust armchair produced by Magis in plastic

The chair, which is Mendini's best-known work, was the first in a series known as Redesigns. The series brought together the designer's academic theories on the importance of historical context for design and the significance of surface appearance in a fast-moving world.

Mendini described the chair as "an intellectual exercise" in a recent interview with Dezeen, in which he also said that there is no more ideology in design and that the industry has lost its critical edge.

Alessandro Mendini's Proust armchair produced by Magis in plastic

The Proust armchair has been reinterpreted by the designer many times, appearing in ceramic, bronze and most recently marble at museums and design events all over the world.

Alessandro Mendini's Proust armchair produced by Magis in plastic
Photograph by Alessandro Paderni

Previous iterations have been limited-edition releases, but Magis put the chair into mass production for the first time in 2011. "This gem of technology and production brings new energy in its colours and atmospheres, making it a truly timeless object," said Mendini.


Related content: see more stories about Alessandro Mendini


The Magis Proust is made using rotational moulding, a process that involves slowly rotating a heated hollow mould. Centrifugal forces disperse the softened plastic material inside to the walls of the mould, forcing it to take on the form as it cools.

Alessandro Mendini's Proust armchair produced by Magis in plastic
Alessandro Mendini. Photograph by Ferdinando Crespi (also main image)

The chairs are available in blue, red, white, orange, and the original dotted pattern. It was also created in a colour named "violato" for this year's D'Annunzio e i Giardini di Pan event, celebrating the poetry of the late Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio, who coined the term for the hue halfway between pink and purple.

Photography is by Tom Vack, courtesy of Magis, unless stated otherwise.