Saturday, May 4, 2019

"Maestà Soffrente" by Gaetano Pesce

Italian designer Gaetano Pesce created a special gigantic version of his iconic UP5 and 6 Chair, also known as the "Donna" Chair for last month's Milan Design Week.

Gaetano Pesce originally created his chair for B&B Italia (then known as C&B Italia) in 1969 out of polyurethane foam and a jersey stretch fabric. Primarily an architect, Pesce is also an industrial designer working on creating chairs with organic forms. His UP5 and 6 Chair--5 is the chair and 6 is the attached ottoman--is also known as the "La Mama Chair" or the "Donna Chair" (donna being the Italian word for woman) because the form is unmistakably female. The chair is still in production through B&B Italia who describe the chair this way:

"The chair is a metaphor of a large comfortable womb and recalls ancient statues of fertility goddesses. However, it has something extra: a spherical ottoman tied to the armchair. Therefore, the image of comfort and convenience is combined with a more figurative image of a woman with a ball and chain on her foot. Gaetano Pesce explains the project as follows: 'At that time, I was telling a personal story about my concept of women: I believe that women have always been unwilling prisoners of themselves. This is why I decided to give this armchair the shape of a woman with a ball and chain, a traditional image of a prisoner.'"

Perhaps what Pesce more accurately means is that women, by being themselves, have always been prisoners of men.

So to mark the 50th anniversary of the chair, and to highlight the ongoing struggles that women around the world face on a daily basis, Pesce revisited his Donna Chair, creating a 26-foot high version pierced with arrows to bring attention to violence against women. Titled "Maestà Soffrente," or "Suffering Majesty," the piece was shown from April 7 t0 14, 2019 in the Piazza del Duomo, in front of the Milan Cathedral.

Photos of "Maestà Soffrente" by Matteo Piazza

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