Gaetano Pesce’s 1969 UP Series; An Ironic Tale of Success
Architect-designer-sculptor-performance artist Gaetano Pesce whom generally is considered to be inline with the ‘anti-design’ school-of-thought, designed the Up Series in 1969 for C & B Italia. Designed to express political ideas important to him at the time. Gaetano Pesce described the ‘UP Series’ as “transformation” furniture. One could say both literally and figuratively.
Constructed of polyurethane foam, Pesce reasoned that since polyurethane foam is 90% air it would be possible to compress and vacuum-seal formed foam furniture into flat boxes. When the furniture was unwrapped from it’s PVC sleeve, the compressed and vacuum-packed flat pieces, retook their shape before your eyes. The process generally took about an hour.
He designed seven pieces in all for the Up Series, the UP 5 chair being it’s most famous and recognizable. Resembling a female figure tied to a ball-shaped ottoman, it is said that the chair symbolizes “the shackles that keep women subjugated”.
The UP 5 chair was only in production from 1970 until 1973. Later, C & B Italia changed their name to B & B Italia and the UP 5 chair and ottoman were re-released into their product line in the year 2000. Still available today, however please note, the chair no longer ships flat or inflates.
Despite Gaetano Pesce’s lack-of-interest in appealing to the ‘Establishment’ or a desire for commercial success with this series, his UP 5 chair has remained popular and innovative for over 40 years – and that is a nice long run… for a chair with no legs, and there in lies the irony.