30 March 2016
Like all the objects designed by Franco Albini, the 836 Tre Pezzi helped to define a universal language that would remain intact with the passing of the decades. Totem, “Punt-e-Mes,” Neoliberty armchair, lunar lander: these are some of the images that have been evoked by this mysterious seat. Conceived with Franca Helg in 1959 for the Carlo Poggi company in Pavia, the chair is made up of three distinct elements—the “three pieces” of its name in Italian: the seat, the wraparound back-and-arm and the wide headrest, in the shape of a half-disk. The frame on the other hand derives from the research that the duo Albini-Helg had been carrying out in those years on a reinterpretation of the metal tube inspired by prefabricated scaffolding, using it as the supporting structure of installations (as in the designs for the Salone d’Onore of the 10th Triennale, in 1954, and the Olivetti Pavilion at Expo 61), lighting fixtures (the AM-AS series of lamps for Sirrah, 1968) or other chairs (such as the Consigliere and Assessore armchairs, designed for the municipal offices of Genoa and made by Poggi in 1962). A line of research that found its best-known application in the project for Linea 1 of the Milanese Metro, 1964, where the handrail has the same curve as the tubing used in the Tre Pezzi, demonstrating the breadth of Albini’s vision. In 2008 Cassina inserted the 836 in its I Maestri collection, proposing a new version with chrome tubing in addition to the original one in black and, later on, one with white or red tubing lined with Mongolian lamb. A wide choice of upholstery, in leather or fabric of various colors. Finally, in 2014, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Linea 1, a limited edition was brought out in black cloth with a structure of red tubing.