Over the years we dedicated two articles, respectively in the sections “Dedicated to” and “Archetypes”, to the “frameless” sofa designed by Willie Landels in the early Sixties that Zanotta put into production from 1965. They both confirm the revolutionary strength of this furnishing item. One sofa made up by four blocks of expanded polyurethane sealed together that Landels had designed for his own home, while Aurelio Zanotta following his legendary intuition, immediately decided to produce, being conscious to anticipate that “wind” of informal freedom that time demanded.
The fact to manufacture, for the very first time in design history, a series of seating elements for the living room, where the upholstery is indeed the carrying frame means a radical turn: the simplification of the production process due to the single material goes hand in hand with a great versatility of use and a significant cost reduction. That’s an ideal example of a product that perfectly embodies both cultural innovation and vanguard production technologies. “An archetype of the minimal upholstered piece that is tidy, balanced and pure” as Beppe Finessi well summarizes in the book “Design: 101 Zanotta stories”. And so today this 50 years-old piece of furniture has undergone a big renewal: new seat dimensions and one lumbar cushion made of goose feather, provide a full comfort. The sofa name changes into Throw-Away L and is offered this year with new covering fabrics in velvet, wool and chenille with a soft touch. The result is an ideal product both for the home and the contract market.
“I am very pleased to see Throw-Away in its fiftieth anniversary renewed with a maturity that surely makes it more comfortable without losing its elegant simplicity” declares Willie Landels, the Italian-Scottish designer who was set-designer at La Scala in Milan, art-director and an artist during his long life. Landels has been based in London for many years and from there is sending his contributions for the “celebration” of the beloved Throw-Away at Zanotta. “The company did a very well job with the sofa, the armchair and the footrest designed so long ago for my London’s home, without distorting its spirit. In the last 50 years the partition of domestic rooms – the living room, the kitchen and the dining room – is practically disappeared. The lifestyle is less formal, the spaces are more open and more cozy. You cook while talking to your relatives or with guests sitting around a table or on an armchair in a more relaxed way” the designer explains. “Design can do a lot to this extent. Provide daily objects – even the most popular ones – with personality and character. Responsibility is in the hands of the most sensitive companies, like Apple, Braun, Zanotta”. But what can designers do? “Nowadays young people sit most of the day in front of a computer. A certainly necessary tool even in our job, but not an “oracle”, I think it should be used with caution to avoid monotony of products. Let’s think about cars that nowadays look alike. On the other hand when designer’s hand intervenes, there quality emerges: the car bodies designed by Pininfarina express such an energy coming from the project that his hand has shaped. Companies like Zanotta should push young creative people adding the knowledge of humanistic culture to the technical skillfulness”. A culture of which Landels and his simple yet genial frameless sofa remain an example for the years to come.