Milan 2023 | Celebrating 10 Years of the Beetle Chair with GUBI

  • GUBI’s exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of their beetle chairs spanned multiple disciplines, showcasing ten creative responses to a modern design icon.

    Ten years, ten creatives, ten stories; Milan Design Week this year marked the anniversary of GUBI’s beloved Beetle chair and its enduring popularity, which is a testament to its exceptional design and craftsmanship. Est living was fortunate to visit GUBI at Bagni Misteriosi in partnership with In Good Company; Australia’s premium design destination.

    A symbol of contemporary elegance and a staple furniture piece in both residential and commercial interiors around the world, the Beetle chair has become an instantly-recognisable form.

    Produced in partnership with In Good Company

    Oca chair designed by Arthur Arbesser | Imagery courtesy of GUBI

    Oca chair designed by Arthur Arbesser | Imagery courtesy of GUBI

    Designed by the Danish-Italian duo GamFratesi, the Beetle draws inspiration from the curved shape and structure of the humble beetle with its distinctive shell-shaped backrest and slender yet sturdy legs. Illuminating the meeting point between comfort, aesthetics, and functionality ensured the Beetle chair became an instant classic.

    First launched at Milan Design Week in 2013, it seemed only fitting that after watching the Beetle take flight across the world, Milan Design Week 2023 would provide the platform to expand upon the Beetle’s legacy and showcase its permanent appeal while exploring new creative possibilities and expanding design frontiers.

    Real Beetle in Epoxy designed by Frank Maria | Imagery courtesy of GUBI

    A diverse group of creatives were called on to pay homage to a chair that has cemented itself in our collective imagination. Ten personalities from the worlds of fashion, art, architecture, and music were invited to take part in this cultural project with a brief to investigate and respond to the future potential of the Beetle chair. By blurring the lines between material, colour, form, and function, designers paid tribute to the Beetle’s original design while reimagining its place in contemporary interiors.

    Danish Fashion Designer Simon Wick offered up (d)issected Beetle, reusing GUBI’s textiles offcuts and waste materials to reconstruct the Beetle’s unique silhouette. Viennese artist Frank Maria’s soft pink ‘Real Beetle in Epoxy’ reinterprets the Beetle as an archaeological sculpture adorned with original designs. Bangkok architect Rachaporn Choochuey was inspired by the climate, traditions, and culture of Asia and presented her playful ‘Flying Beetle’ as a suspended swing, while Milanese Sound Designer Painé Cuadrelli’s ‘Metamorfosi’ presents an immersive audio-visual installation depicting the evolution of the Beetle.

    A Brief History of Seating artwork series designed by Martin Groch | Imagery courtesy of GUBI

    Metamorfosi immersive audiovisual installation by sound designer Painé Cuadrelli | Imagery courtesy of GUBI

    Demonstrating the versatile shape of design to include artistic embellishments, colourful expressions, materiality, and sculptural explorations – all ten iterations of the Beetle chair personify the design world’s ongoing fascination with this iconic piece and the influence it holds today. As we look to the future, the Beetle chair’s legacy will continue to inspire and shape the world of furniture design for years to come, solidifying its place in the pantheon of design classics.

    This article was featured in the latest issue of est magazine, the Milan 2023 Special Issue

    Living the Horizon installation by lighting designer Ximena Munoz inspired by the Beetle chair (pictured).

    (di)ssected Beetle designed by Simon Wick | Imagery courtesy of GUBI

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