12 Jan The ‘Portuguese’ Chair

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The so-called ‘Portuguese chair’ has been reinvented again and again. Nuno Ladeiro is the latest designer to add some more flavour to the cherished design.

Nuno Ladeiro Portuguese chair Colico

In fact, the ‘Portuguese chair’ is really the ‘Gonçalo Chair’, named after Gonçalo Rodrigues dos Santos, the original creator of the Portuguese cafe terrace emblem.

In late 1940s Portugal, dos Santos had a small welding shop in Lisbon and produced a range of products out of metal. Then, the story goes, dos Santos invented a particular tube bending machine (kept hidden from curious eyes). The end product, with a basic structure of two bent tubes, was the ‘Gonçalo Chair’ whose ultimate comfort was thanks to user testing by the metal workers themselves.

Lisbon_Praça do Comercio

The chair’s popularity swept across cafes in the city in the 50s and 60s and today still forms a staple of Portuguese social life and cafe culture. On this author’s recent trip to Lisbon, ample evidence was found in and amongst paper-readers, natterers and city pigeons.

In turn, furniture designers have interpreted and reinterpreted the chair each creating unique versions whilst forever dedicating inspiration to dos Santos. We’ve personally came across a variation by our friend Gonçalo Prudencio, with the stylish use of a cork based seat.

The very latest reinvention that we’ve been getting excited about, though, is that by Nuno Ladeiro. Ladeiro, who has over the years designed a number of ‘Gonçalo Chair’ hits such as for placement during the Expo ‘98 Lisbon World Fair (this version was made out of aluminium and polycarbonate) and then an aluminium and teak wood version for the Italian Vice Versa.

This time Ladeiro has stayed even truer to the original form for Colico but has adapted the technique for plastic air holding technology.

 The end product offers increased comfort and is much lighter. And for the technophiles, the “new Portuguese chair is made via air-assist injection molding; a low-pressure process that utilizes nitrogen gas to uniformly fill the component. As a result of the technique and the unique channels that it produces; clamp tonnage, cycle time, and part weight are reduced, while strength and rigidity are increased.”  Sounds very fancy.

Well done Nuno Ladeiro. We love it.

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Photos courtesy of Nuno Ladeiro, Goncalo Prudencio and the author’s own.
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