Polish designer Oscar Zeta, Zieta Studio, has created a metal chair weighing less than two kilograms. The Ultraleggera model is an homage to the Superleggera 699 chair by Italian architect Gio Ponti . This design icon has been produced continuously since 1957. While the Ponti version is made from lightweight yet durable ash wood and weighs 1.7kg, the Zeta variant is made entirely from aluminum and weighs just 1.66kg.
At the same time, the Ultraleggera is more than a kilogram heavier than the Estrema chair by Massimiliano Della Monaca, which, at 0.617 kg, is officially the lightest chair in the world. Strength and stability are provided by Zeta’s signature technique known as FiDU or freie innen druck umformung.
The two-dimensional outline of the chair frame is cut from two aluminum sheets, which are then welded together and inflated with compressed air. This creates an H-shaped block with two legs and half a back. Two of these blocks are welded together with a laser-cut seat and back panels to form the Ultraleggera chair. The designer came up with this process for making inflatable metal objects while studying in Zurich in the early 2000s. It was this that he used to create the famous Plopp stool for the Hay brand in 2008.
“Because the surface of the material is slightly uneven, the deformation process creates a three-dimensional, stable bionic structure that is surprisingly durable,” comments Oscar Zeta. — As one of the few design studios working with sheet metal, we respect the “freedom of deformation” of this material. We don’t squeeze it into the matrix and don’t want to completely control its deformation. It is in this process that unique structures with a high strength coefficient are created.”
According to the designer, the FiDU method saves energy and materials compared to standard production processes, and the chair is made from a single, 100% recyclable material. The Ultraleggera has already received the top award in the industrial design category at the Materialica Design and Technology Awards.