It is also an example of how, in the creative process, nothing really gets lost, and even things that have been set aside for a decade can suddenly spring back to life. When Humberto started making chairs back in the early 90s, he fabricated a seat made of wire and wood rings. “It was very sculptural and one of a kind,” he says. “We kind of forgot about that project until the art director of Edra came to the studio one day and saw a photo of this other chair and asked us to make something like this concept with another shape.”
Working from the concept of lines floating in air, Humberto began simply by bending pieces of steel wire. “We started with real scale, one-to-one,” he recalls. “I bent a lot of materials, created a lot of lines, and then we started welding them one to another to create the structure. We create a volume, even though we don’t know what will be the final shape, and then, just like sculpting, like someone who works in marble or wood, we start to take away material to sculpt the chair itself and to make it comfortable.” He continues, “There were several phases, little by little, but the sculpture came first and the function came after.”
When the handmade prototype was finished, the brothers sent it off to Tuscany where skilled craftsmen followed their basic form to create this highly fashioned armchair. Even though Edra has developed a kind of mold around which the wires are bent and welded to create the overall shape, every Corallo armchair is basically made by hand. “Each one is different from the other,” Humberto points out. “This humanizes the design. We don’t want to put a standardization on the chair. We want to have a human touch. These are semi-industrialized, but they need the human hand to help them.”
Once Edra saw the shape of the seat finalized, they named it Corallo, which means coral in Italian, and painted the piece its signature color. Humberto remembers, “The first one we did was rusted, without any paint or varnishes. But this one is painted so it can be out in the garden and can be comfortable. The paint has a kind of plastic in it, so it’s softer in contact with the body.” However, he notes, “It’s not a chair to sit in for many hours, I will confess. It’s something that you could use a pillow with. That would be fine with me. It doesn’t matter to me how people are going to use it. The most important thing is for us to make the concept, to bring something new, and then it starts walking on its own, and I’m not responsible for it anymore.”
More pieces of bent metal are added to give the Corallo chair arm supports. The production models are made in a similar way, by bending wires over a rough form and welding them together.
Credit: Fernando and Humberto Сатрапа
Bottom: Once the generous proportions of the seat are created, the form is set atop a temporary support to finalize its proportions.
Credit: Fernando and Humberto Сатрапа
© The Corallo chair, as produced by Edra, is covered with a brilliant coral paint that not only protects it from the elements but also contains rubber to make it more comfortable against the skin. Credit: Edra
Ultimately, the pleasures of the Carollo chair are quite simple for Humberto. “It looks like a cloud of lines in the sky,” he says. “I like this. It gives me happiness when I see it. It gives me the sensation of lightness.” And when others look at it? “When people see it, there is a smile on their face,” Humberto reports. “Especially children. They love our furniture. They seem to make an emotional connection to the chair. This is what is missing today in furniture, this emotion, this connection to the spirit. The world is saturated with rationalism. People need to work more with intuition and a sense of humor. In this era, we need this.”