Quinta armchair (1985) designed by Mario Botta

Quinta Armchair by Mario Botta
Quinta armchair by Mario Botta

When the Swiss structural-rationalist architect Mario Botta was asked to design furniture for Alias, he used the universal principles of functionalism—geometry, formal order, and structural clarity—to make very expressive pieces.

His Quinta (Fifth) chair, which has been drastically scaled down to a tense, thin metal outline, shares the same obvious structural rigour and continuous frame as tubular-steel chairs designed in the 1920s. Still, the Botta piece is perversely interrupted so that the arms do not rest on the back member, reflecting the significant voids in his buildings.

Botta shows off industrial materials like perforated sheet metal used for the seat in a cool, elegant, and mechanical way. Botta said this about his Prima (First) chair, which he made for Alias in 1982 but is also true of this one: “This is a very vain chair.” It wants everyone to see everything about it. It was made so that every connection point is clear; nothing is hidden. So, the seat is made with perforated holes so you can see the understructure.”


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL

Hiesinger, K. B., & Marcus, G. H. (1993). Landmarks of twentieth-Century design: An illustrated handbook. Abbecille.


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