Galeotta, a folding armchair that comes from the Sixties

Designed by Jonathan De Pas, Donato D’Urbino, and Paolo Lomazzi, the armchair is now produced by Zanotta in a revised version, with the collaboration of one of its creators.

This article was originally published on Domus 1085, December 2023.

“Colour in the areas with the indicated colour,” read the 1960s ad of a historic Lombardy furniture company. By following the ad’s instructions, the design of the transformable Galeotta chair took shape with orange, red and raspberry. Designed for Bonacina by Jonathan De Pas, Donato D’Urbino and Paolo Lomazzi (the Milanese architect trio of studio DDL), the cheerful seat was composed of polyurethane foam blocks of different thicknesses, which were joined only by the upholstery fabric.

It could assume three configurations, easily converting from a simple chair into a comfortable chaise longue. In another historical ad campaign – under the three Bs of the company’s logo (designed by Italo Lupi) – three coloured illustrations showed users sitting, lying, thinking, snuggling up and “surfing” on Galeotta’s colourful cushions, available in yellow, orange, green, brown and “vivid blue”. This time, the drawn men and women were responding to the ad’s caption: “Let’s have fun with Galeotta!” 

The original technical drawing, heliographic copy on paper, 64 x 50cm © Comune di Milano – Casva

Since the start of their partnership in 1966, the three designers challenged the concept of conventional living, inviting people to abandon their static and passive attitude towards the domestic environment. Encouraging an interactive relationship between humans and the objects around them, they proposed a series of foldable, stackable and easy-to-move furnishings. The idea was to engender an “engaging relationship” between people and furniture, so “they could freely and responsibly compose spaces that were best-suited to their self-fulfilment”, as they wrote in their 1966 Manifesto del Nuovo arredamento (“Manifesto of New Furniture”). Now preserved at the Centro di Alti Studi sulle Arti Visive (CASVA) in Milan, the archive drawing for a modular foam furnishing – the future Galeotta – shows the calibrated joints and proportions of the folding cushions, curved and harmoniously assembled to allow different configurations without internal mechanisms or support structures.

Galeotta coherently fits into the pop line that DDL had been developing since the mid-1960s. It was also exhibited at the Eurodomus show in 1970, at the Palazzo dell’Arte in Milan stacked in a mountain of other “sister” chairs (Domus 488, 1970). Today, the chair is produced by Zanotta, another historic Italian company for which De Pas, D’Urbino and Lomazzi have conceived irreverent and timeless pieces of Italian design. Redesigned with Lomazzi, its materials and dimensions have been updated, and – true to its nature – it is covered in removable fabric to adapt to modern living needs. 

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