The new Klismos collection designed by Antonio Citterio for Knoll

For his first collaboration with the US company, the Italian designer and architect has created a collection of chairs with clear references to the classicism of Greek furniture, restoring modernity and lightness.

This article was originally published on Domus 1071, September 2022.

Working with a group like Knoll, with its history and great tradition, is not something to be taken lightly even by Antonio Citterio, who entered the world of industrial design at a young age. He was just 24 years old when his first project, the Baia sofa for B&B Italia, was produced in 1974. “Without detracting in the least from Italian design, I think the post-war American tradition, nurtured by the Cranbrook Academy of Art, was extraordinary,” he says.

“My approach is very close to American culture, because I’ve never seen the relationship between client and designer as conflictual. I believe in a synergic partnership with industry, with an eye to the market and design as part of the industrial process, not an added value.” Contributing to the Knoll collection therefore had a special value for Citterio.

Antonio Citterio insieme a un prototipo della collezione Klismos
Antonio Citterio together with a prototype of the Klismos collection. Photo Federico Cedrone

With his first collaboration, which has produced the Klismos family of chairs, he drew on the memory of an icon of classical culture. In ancient Greece, Klismos was the name of a type of chair found in images of ancient furniture painted on pottery. A second strong reference was the chair designed in the 1930s by RobsjohnGibbings, which reproduced the classic Greek model. “My product, however, has a more dynamic form, with a slender and lighter wooden supporting frame,” he explains. “The elements of this collection for Knoll, such as armchairs, chaises longues, sofas, benches and tables, engage in a dialogue with the company’s other classic pieces.”

The frame is made of oak, with the seat and back in a weave of natural cotton cord, a tough material capable of passing the strict tests required by the American market. “The treatment of the woven seat dates back to the Egyptians. Once ox sinews were used, which then became leather in the tradition of this typology. It was a gradual process for me to become fully versed in Knoll’s ways. One of my formal references was Harry Bertoia.”

Klismos is naturally based on the principles of sustainability, evident in the choice of natural materials such as wood (from a traceable supply chain) and marble, as well as the finishes and production logistics. It will be produced in both Italy and America.

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