In 1999 the Berlin based designer Werner Aisslinger surprised the design world by exhibiting the world’s first series of gel-furniture called „soft-cell“. The soft-cell chairs, a limited edition which in the meantime made it into countless exhibitions and into the Vitra Design Museum’s collection, were the starting point of a rapid technological evolution of this translucent elastic material.
The next step in the evolution of the development with this fascinating material Werner Aisslinger has realized with Zanotta, Italy’s most innovative design company during the last decades.
As with the leaves of a tree the organic lattice structure of the supporting strings shows through the translucent surface of the chaise, and depending on the light situation their colour and appearance change. The gel-surface is mat and coated with a texture resembling human skin.
The “soft”-chaise the worlds first industrialized furniture object fascinated the design experts and is regarded as a quantum leap in material evolution in design – to quote Philipp Starck: „here it became clear that there is no need for designing but simply for experimenting with a balanced minimum of nodesign which is only concerned with the material itself.“
The soft-chaise became a milestone for the design szene – in 2000 it was the second most published design object world wide, it won various design awards like the Italian Compasso `d Oro-selection, the Blueprint 100% Design Award in London and the Selection Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and became part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York and the Fonds National d´Art Contemporain in France.
Amongst the earliest design fans of the translucent high-tech lounge furniture was Brad Pitt, who ordered 3 gel-chaises from Zanotta´s for his beach house in Santa Barbara.