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Object Timeline

1982

  • Work on this object began.

1987

  • Work on this object ended.

1991

  • We acquired this object.

2001

2013

2015

2017

  • You found it!

Handkerchief Prototype For A Chair, 1982–87

This is a Prototype for a chair. It was designed by Lella Vignelli and Massimo Vignelli and manufactured by Knoll International, founded 1938 and design team member: David Law. It is dated 1982–87 and we acquired it in 1991. Its medium is bent enamelled tubular metal, composition. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Italian-born husband-and-wife design team Massimo and Lella Vignelli founded Vignelli Associates in New York in 1971, after ten years of collaborating together. Though Massimo in particular is known primarily as a graphic designer—including of subway signs and maps, corporate logos, publications, and shopping bags—his reach has extended into interiors and products, from stackable dinnerware to minimalist tables and chairs. The Handkerchief Chair, designed with David Law, echoes the fragility of a handkerchief in its visual lightness and form—which has ergonomic sensibilities—but, perhaps ironically, is made to be durable and long-lasting. Named for its resemblance to a handkerchief floating in air, the chair is also a tribute to designer Paolo Venini, who designed a “Handkerchief” vase in 1948. It is characteristic of the couple’s refined minimalism, which they articulated in their design manifesto: “We despise the culture of obsolescence, the culture of waste, the cult of the ephemeral…We are for a Design that lasts, that responds to people's needs and to people's wants.” The stackable chairs, still manufactured and sold today, are available in a variety of colors and with or without arm rests. Together, Massimo and Lella received Cooper Hewitt’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

This object was donated by Knoll Textiles. It is credited Gift of The Knoll Group.

Our curators have highlighted 1 object that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 74.1 x 52.4 x 49.5 cm (29 3/16 x 20 5/8 x 19 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Handkerchief Prototype For A Chair, 1982–87; Designed by Massimo Vignelli and Lella Vignelli; USA; bent enamelled tubular metal, composition; H x W x D: 74.1 x 52.4 x 49.5 cm (29 3/16 x 20 5/8 x 19 1/2 in.); Gift of The Knoll Group; 1991-118-1

The Conservation department has taken one photo of this object.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18635519/ |title=Handkerchief Prototype For A Chair, 1982–87 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 September 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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