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Joe Colombo

An iconic Italian chair that seems to become even more popular every year is Joe Colombo's Elda Chair. You hate it or you love it. I definitely fall into the latter category, which is why we recently gave this icon a place in our living room. The chair exudes power and when you sit in it, you are one with the comfortable design. This week, with Whoppah Explores, we dive into the world of the extraordinary Italian designer Joe Colombo.

EvelienAugust 2023
Joe Colombo Elda Chair


Cesare (known as Joe) Colombo, was born in 1930 in Milan. In the 1960s, he was ahead of his time, designing bold and daring objects that showed a strong optimistic vision. This earned him his place in the history of great Italian designers. Thanks to his energy and optimism, the famous designer produced an extraordinarily broad oeuvre in his tragically short career. Not only did he die young - at the age of 41 from heart failure - but he also started designing relatively late, as he devoted his twenties to painting and sculpture.


As is the case with many other designers, Colombo did not begin his short-lived career as a designer. In his formative years, he engaged in fine arts such as painting and sculpture and studied at the Academia di Bella Arti in Milan. Joe Colombo did not start as a designer until 1953 with a creation of a ceiling for a jazz club in Milan, including three outdoor lounge areas, a project that inspired him to enroll in Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Milan. He later opened a design studio in Milan to work on architectural commissions in 1962, experimenting in particular with new materials - especially plastic. In his decade as a designer, Colombo was exceptionally prolific. He created some of the most memorable products of the 1960s: from the Universale, the first chair formed from a single material, to futuristic all-in-one living systems. All his early designs have one thing in common: they are bold sculptural curved forms.

Elda Chair

After Joe Colombo visited a shipyard making fibreglass hulls for boats in 1963, inspiration struck: why not use the same technique for the base of a chair? The result: a spacious, futuristic armchair in which seven removable cushions can rotate 360° in a moulded fibreglass shell. It would become an icon and he named it after his wife, Elda. This chair can be found in the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Arts in New york and Elda went on to star in the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, in the 1970s series Space: 1999 and in the 2012 film The Hunger Games.

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