Italian furniture brand Cappellini and British designer Jasper Morrison celebrated three decades of collaboration in 2018. Creative director Guilio Cappellini looks back at designs the pair have produced together, from the iconic Thinking Man’s Chair to the seating at Tate Modern.
Made from lacquered metal, the chair was the first commercial commission of Morrison’s career. It went on to become one of his best-known designs and set the tone for what was to follow.
“You can see the spirit of Jasper but you can also see the spirit of Cappellini, which is a little bit eclectic,” explained Guilio Cappellini.
“Cappellini can be a simple and clean product, or a more organic product. You can see Jasper’s philosophy and the Cappellini DNA.”
After that, the brand launched a steady stream of Morrison designs, including the Three Sofa De Luxe, the Hi Pad and Tate chairs, and the Bac table. Most recently, the pair worked together on the O Cap Chair, which launched this year.
Cappellini claims that, although the brand works with many high-profile designers from around the world, the relationship with Morrison has been the most important.
“I have the maximum respect for all the designers who work with Cappellini, they come from all over the world – all with a totally different attitude to design – but I have to say that Jasper is the designer that I feel the closest to,” he said.
The designs were showcased at an exhibition in Cappellini’s London showroom during London Design Festival. Here’s an overview of the designs shown:
The Thinking Man’s Chair
Cappellini commissioned The Thinking Man’s Chair after seeing it in an exhibition for Aram Design. According to Cappellini, the key to the design is its simplicity.
“With a product like this, the manufacturing details are really very very important,” he explained. “I like the purity of the design and the different lines. For me it was important that the chair was contemporary but at the same time reminded me of something from the past.”
“I think that nowadays it is difficult to come up with a new shape, many of the most beautiful shapes were developed in the 50s and 60s. But it is possible to be very innovative with materials and technologies of production.”
The 1991 Bed, which Cappellini describes as a “timeless classic” is actually a series of beds made with a wood and metal structure and padded with foam. The design includes removable fabric covers.
“This is an elegant product which can be easily included in several architectural environments,” said Cappellini.
Three Sofa De Luxe
Many of the products created in the collaboration between Morrison and Cappellini are recognisably influenced by Morrison’s functional and minimal style, but there is also the more flamboyant Three Sofa De Luxe.
“This is a more aggressive piece; most are very quiet,” said Cappellini. “There is always this balance between contemporary and classic and every detail is very important. You can see this in the sofa.”
“It’s a sofa with a strong and everlasting image, a brave approach to design from Jasper,” he added.
The Green Bottles is a set of bottles in three different shapes and heights manufactured in green moulded glass, with the bottle neck handcrafted by glass masters.
“It’s an example of how a simple gesture can transform an everyday object in a sophisticated design piece,” said Cappellini.
This design is a double-faced floor mirror with adjustable angle inclination.
Cappellini described it as “the essence of simplicity in Jasper Morrison’s lines”.
“The old Elan is a very good seller for Cappellini. It’s a simple sofa with a lot of technology inside,” explained Cappellini. “See how you have such a big sofa balanced only on such thin legs. There is an aluminium structure in the middle that makes the sofa very light and very strong.”
Like many of Morrison’s designs, the Elan has been included in permanent museum collections around the world.
“The Elan is here in London in the Tate Modern museum and in the Whitney Museum in New York,” said Cappellini. “But I say, it makes me more happy to hear the Cappellini products are in museums but more happy to hear they are in people’s homes. That’s the goal of design.”
Low Pad and Hi Pad
The Pad collection, made up of the Pad stool and the Hi Pad and Low Pad chairs, showcases a mix of technology and handmade finishes. The padding is done by machinery, while the fabrics are finished by hand.
The Low Pad is a small armchair with a bent wooden structure and foam padding. Like the Hi Pad, the Low Pad and Hi Pad stool can be covered in different fabrics and leathers.
The stackable Tate chair and stool have a satin stainless-steel frame and come in two different heights with a beech and birch plywood seat that could be lacquered in a multitude of colours.
“Born for Tate Modern’s cafe, these chairs have been really appreciated by the market, have been inserted in the company’s permanent catalogue and continue to be a long seller,” said Cappellini.
The Morrison s tool features a simple seat supported on an elegant metal frame. The seat can be finished in bleached, walnut or wengé stained ash or upholstered in fabric or leather.
“The line is very simple, but I think the stitching is perfect. The most important thing again is the detail,” said the brand director.
The Simplon table collection encompasses a dining table and a low table. Each has a typically simple base, with a top that can be finished with different materials.
The Simplon cabinet, with doors and drawers, is characterised by a formal lightness. Its minimal width means that it is well suited to narrow spaces or space-constrained living.
Lotus and Lotus Attesa
The Lotus office chair, a development of the Pad collection, is a swivel office chair that comes in five variations.
The Lotus office chair, another successful product produced in 2003, is a development of the Pad made with the idea of creating a classic collection of office chairs.
The collection consisting of low, medium and high armchairs, with or without armrests, with many options for colours and finishes.
The Superoblong series of freestanding and modular seating elements. They have removable covers in a selection of fabrics and leathers with different combinations of stitches and zippers.
“This is one of the first deconstructed sofas,” said Cappellini, “and it has become a point of reference for the upholstery sector”.
The Bac chair was originally designed for the galleries of the Tate Modern in 2000. But it had such a good reception that it was included in the Cappellini catalogue and is now available in many different versions.
“We have the wooden version, the upholstered version, the basic chrome or painted version. With Jasper we always try to create small families of products instead of just a single product,” said Cappellini.
Cap is a small armchair. Its legs come in bleached, walnut- stained or wengé-stained ash, while its seat is available in full-grain or pigmented hide or in a selection of fabrics.
Cappellini describes the Orla sofa and armchair range as “very simple, but very classic”.
It is “a contemporary reinterpretation of a classic sofa with soft and captivating lines,” he said.
The Lounge Chair is a light and stackable chair, with a black or white matt laminate shell and a four-leg metal-rod base.
“A resistant chair, sober and with easy maintenance. It was realised for the hospitality sector,” he said.
The most recent of Morrison’s designs for Cappellini is the O-Cap Chair.
“It represents the everlasting elegance of Jasper Morrison’s distinctive trait,” said Cappellini.