London-based designer Sabi has unveiled a furniture duo comprising a bookshelf and a chair, named Il Pontaio. The designs were launched at Salone Satellite during this year's Milan Design Week, which took place from the 18th to the 23rd of April 2023. According to Sabina Blasiotti, the Italian designer behind the creation, the duo draws inspiration from the symbolism, aesthetics, structural integrity, and cultural significance of bridges, to create an icon for the domestic space.
The design of both the chair and bookshelf incorporates elements found in a tied arch bridge. These elements include two catenary arches that support the weight of both the shelves and the chair, transferring the load to the floor. This load transfer is facilitated through suspension cables that connect the shelves to the arch. The shelves themselves serve a dual purpose: they provide levels on which external loads can be placed, and they act as ties that help maintain the integrity of the arches, preventing them from opening up, by fixing the shelves to the arch at the edges.
The chair and bookshelf are constructed using birch plywood (PEFC-certified) as the primary material and feature adjustable 1.5mm steel cables and grippers (TÜV Nord-certified). Plywood, also known as engineered wood, is created by bonding together smaller pieces of wood, increasing the structural stability and durability of the wood while minimising the waste of natural resources. The arches and shelf supports have been coated with darkening matte paint, while the shelves themselves have been treated with a black matte finish, to protect the furniture against wear and tear.
Il Pontaio was crafted in the Abruzzo region in Italy, which is the designer's place of origin. The furniture duo employed both conventional and innovative woodworking techniques in its fabrication. The plywood curves were produced using a 5-axis interpolated CNC machine, which was operated by skilled CNC artisans who used nesting processing to optimise the use of the material. To ensure the excellence of the finished product, each individual piece was meticulously sanded by hand.
The design draws inspiration from the iconic bookshelf of Franco Albini, Il Veliero. Sabi wanted to debut at Salone Satellite with a piece of furniture that would pay homage to the timeless elegance of Italian classical furniture design. The result is Il Pontaio, a design characterised by the distinctive use of a classic shape, the catenary curve, and a daring structure, the bridge, resulting in an easily-recognisable aesthetic that resonates with distinct people on an individual level.
Bridges stand as a testament to how design can fulfil its intended purpose and also surpass it by creating an iconic space. Similarly, Il Pontaio aims to surpass its functional role as a piece of furniture and instead celebrate the unifying force of knowledge and culture, becoming a unique element and symbolic icon of the domestic space.
The designer provides her personal perspective on Il Pontaio, stating that the process of constructing the furniture and participating in the Salone Satellite event was a collaborative and unifying experience. “Il Pontaio is dedicated to all the people who have used and continue to use their skills, culture and knowledge to tirelessly construct bridges, icons, spaces, products and services that transcend our distances to bring us closer together”.
Collection Name: Il Pontaio
Materials: Birch Plywood and Steel Cables and Grippers
Finishes: Darkening Matte (Arches and Shelves Supports) / Matte Black (Shelves)
Dimensions: Chair, 60 x 66 x 66cm / Bookshelf, 291 x 47 x 240 cm
Production Processes: Nesting Processing and Machining on a 5-axis interpolated CNC Machine Product Launch Date: 18/04/2023
Launch Venue: Salone Satellite, Salone del Mobile, Milan
Place of Origin: Abruzzo, Italy
Design: Sabi Space
Designer: Sabina Blasiotti
Artisans: Francesco Carullo, Simone Carullo
Photographer: Diego Costantini
Sabi is a passionate architecture and design studio based in London, UK. Sabi is a space that values authentic characters, natural aesthetics and experiences of unity and belonging.
Sabi's designs are reflective of the needs, personalities and beauty of their users and site. This reflection enables the creation of spaces and objects that feel authentic, timeless, and deeply connected to the environment and the human experience.
Sabi seeks to communicate important messages through simplicity and serenity, creating experiences that are inspiring and should exist.