Osorom Chair, Konstantin Grcic In an act that would prove prophetic, Konstantin Grcic named his mashed , wire­framed computer image representing a kind of public seating Osorom, which is the manufacturer Moroso spelled backward. “It is quite contradictory to what they usually do,” he notes

Подпись: ® The Osorom as it came directly off the tool, the day before the official opening of the Salone del Mobile 2005, where it was introduced. Credit: KGID office Подпись:“A few years ago, Moroso furniture celebrated their 50th anniver­sary by inviting fifty designers and architects to submit ideas about furniture linked to rapid prototyping. All we had to do was send digital data, and they’d create 3D images and put the design ideas into an exhibition,” he recalls. “This intrigued me because I thought, we design a beautiful thing, and send to them, and don’t concern ourselves with how it’s made.” Grcic glibly describes the result of this exercise as a “squashed piece of a round thing with holes in it. I saw it as a seating island for public spaces, where comfort was not a prime issue. Just as a place to rest.”

However, the perverse name of the product seems to have un­leashed a whole long process of contradictions. To start, Moroso fell in love with the design and decided they wanted to make this completely unrealistic item real. “When they first said they wanted to make it, I didn’t take them seriously,” Grcic says. “I thought it was impossible and that would be the end of the story.” But Moroso didn’t give up. “That’s one of the great things about the Italian furniture industry,” Grcic notes. “It works be­cause of people who have a real passion for these kinds of things, and they have an attitude that everything is possible. They say, ‘We just make a few phone calls and we’ll find someone who will agree to make it.’ Which is exactly what happened,” he recalls. “We were on the manufacturing floor, someone started making some calls, and half an hour later, this guy appears, who looks like Einstein. He lives in a village down the road and builds rally cars for off-road racing, working in fiberglass. He looked at the piece and said, ‘Yeah, it’s not a problem.’ In Italy, they have a belief that if it’s beautiful and they want to make it, they will.”

However, after about ten days, all beauty aside, ‘Einstein’ decided he couldn’t make the piece after all. Then a relative of the owner of Moroso, known by one and all as Uncle Marino, said he would do it. “And the thing is,” says Grcic, “he did. Single handedly, he made the first prototype. He used a kind of electric jigsaw to cut out the holes from fiberglass. It was quite crazy. He produced this 3D full-scale prototype of my little computer CAD drawing. Of course, Uncle Marino doesn’t use the digital data; he took the di­mensions and then drew the grid by hand and cut out the holes. It shows how someone who is skilled and has an educated and trained eye for design —he’s been working with designers his whole life —had a sensitivity for what I had in my mind, and he was able to translate it into this full-scale thing.”

Osorom Chair, Konstantin Grcic In an act that would prove prophetic, Konstantin Grcic named his mashed , wire­framed computer image representing a kind of public seating Osorom, which is the manufacturer Moroso spelled backward. “It is quite contradictory to what they usually do,” he notes

Osorom Chair, Konstantin Grcic In an act that would prove prophetic, Konstantin Grcic named his mashed , wire­framed computer image representing a kind of public seating Osorom, which is the manufacturer Moroso spelled backward. “It is quite contradictory to what they usually do,” he notes

@ Uncle Marino uses a jigsaw to cut individual pieces from a monolithic piece of fiberglass for the first—and what was supposed to be the only—Osorom chair. Credit: KGID office

Подпись: ® The cutting lines of the distinctive, but “arbitrary,” grid pattern were hand-drawn—and then hand cut—onto the original fiberglass prototype. Credit: KGID office

Osorom Chair, Konstantin Grcic In an act that would prove prophetic, Konstantin Grcic named his mashed , wire­framed computer image representing a kind of public seating Osorom, which is the manufacturer Moroso spelled backward. “It is quite contradictory to what they usually do,” he notes

Подпись: Once again, Grcic thought he has reached the end of the line with Osorom. Moroso showed it at the Milan Furniture Fair as simply a beautiful, one-off, object. “They just wanted to say to people, ‘We went through all this trouble to show you a prototype because we think it’s beautiful. It’s the kind of thing we believe in’,” says Grcic. “But then, at Milan, people really liked it and asked about producing it, and the ball started rolling faster and faster and became impossible to stop,” he continues, in amazement. Finding the appropriate material was critical. The solution arrived in the form of an Italian engineer and inventor named Bertoglio. He had just created a plastic called Hirek that is porous on the inside, and has a smooth surface on the outside, similar to human bone. This quality allows it to be injection molded in a wide variety of widths. “Normally,” Grcic notes, “you injection mold plastic very thin, up to 4 or 5 millimeters "), not up to 50 (2"). But since this material is spongy on the inside, it’s less heavy and has great structural integrity. In addition, you can injection mold with relatively low pressure, which means the tool can be made from aluminum rather than steel, which reduces the tooling cost substantially.” Once this problem was resolved, another followed soon on its heels. Grcic continues the story: “There was a bit of a bottleneck, as the man who had invented this plastic also claimed sole rights to use his own material and technology. When we asked him to work on it, he had 100 other commissions. He was overwhelmed, and for days and weeks, we would try to phone him, and no one could trace him. Moroso had paid him up front money to buy the aluminium that had to be specially tempered, brought from the US. . . it probably had to be tempered only during the full Moon!” Grcic says, laughing. After almost a year, they decided to move Подпись: on. “There was a point when we started to work with an engineering office to make a study of this piece and see if there was any other technology or material in which it could be made. They found certain solutions, and we found suppliers that could make tools. We were still talking about injection molding with more conventional plastics. Then one day, Bertolgio calls and says he’s now ready and he will have tools ready in two months. We had totally crossed him off our list, and he calls and says everything is now possible. It was a very strange, emotional, and heated debate trying to figure out what we are going to do now. Do we trust in this guy who had messed us around for a year and was just an outrageous character? His system is the smarter one, but as a person, he was a really risky factor. The engineering model was a less smart solution, but probably a safer one. In the end we all decided to go with the smart technology and the crazy guy and hope it would work out. And the miracle is that ever since that phone call, he kept every promise he made.” The final Osorom piece is made of two identical halves that are then put together. The pattern of holes is, according to Grcic, quite arbitrary. “You look at it from above and project a square grid on it, and then decide to punch some holes out and keep some filled. There’s no rule or system, other than we’ve kept patches of places filled because this is intuitively where you would sit down.” The production model of the Osorom was shown at the 2005 Milan Furniture Fair and Grcic reports that in fact, it is actually quite comfortable to sit on. “This Hirek material feels very soft, has a smooth touch, and a beautiful temperature, which matters with material. Also, because it has quite a span, it flexes just a little bit. It feels good.” After all these years of tumultuous development, that simple satisfaction is probably the best reward.

® Shown here is one half of the tool that is used to create the production model Osorom, made of a unique, Hirek plastic that has a structure similar to human bone. Credit: KGID office

Osorom Chair, Konstantin Grcic In an act that would prove prophetic, Konstantin Grcic named his mashed , wire­framed computer image representing a kind of public seating Osorom, which is the manufacturer Moroso spelled backward. “It is quite contradictory to what they usually do,” he notes

Top: The original, preindustrial production version of Osorom, presented at the 2003 Salone del Mobile, where it was intended to be a one-of-a-kind, one-off object of beauty and curiosity. Credit: KGID office

® Another view of the original Osorom shows the scale and open structure of the seating piece, which was the source of many production challenges. The discovery of Hirek plastic offered the combination of strength and lightness Osorom required. Credit: KGID office

 

Osorom Chair, Konstantin Grcic In an act that would prove prophetic, Konstantin Grcic named his mashed , wire­framed computer image representing a kind of public seating Osorom, which is the manufacturer Moroso spelled backward. “It is quite contradictory to what they usually do,” he notes