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The Tessa outdoor armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
Sketch of the Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
The Tessa outdoor armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
The Tessa outdoor armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.
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Inspired his childhood, Antonio Citterio designs the Tessa armchair for Flexform.
The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

Episode 2

Connecting to Nature, Memory, and Tradition

By Whitewall

June 7, 2021

A wicker chair. For many, it recalls a memory of childhood, the cozy embrace of a relative, and summer spent in the countryside or by the water. For Antonio Citterio, this was the feeling he wanted to capture in Flexform’s new Tessa and Tessa outdoor armchair. “Straw and wicker chairs have been part of my memory since childhood,” Citterio said.

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The Tessa outdoor armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

Growing up in Brianza, the northern region in Italy that is also home to Flexform, the natural material was used widely, woven into furniture, baskets, and the like. “There is a lake here with this rough, natural material growing nearby. It was a tradition in Brianza for farmers in the winter time to make furniture with this material. I’m talking about 100-200 years ago, but it's a strong memory there,” Citterio recently told Whitewall.

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The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

While no longer as ubiquitous, the designer was drawn to its natural qualities and set out to create the Tessa armchair. The woven seat and back, both pitched at a relaxed tilt and width, exude warmth and summer sun. Its legs and frames are elegantly rounded, meeting each counterpart with a conical kiss, expressing the expert craftsmanship that is no doubt behind each element. “This rustic flavor, the essence of the country life, the simplicity of the design, the idea of an object that almost wants to be not-designed. But, it must be spontaneous. That is what tips the scales on the project,” describes Citterio.

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Sketch of the Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

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The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

There is certainly a design complexity behind the simplicity of the Tessa armchair. That dichotomy is part of its appeal and beauty. “Instinctively, you want to do something that, maybe, has this relationship with the history of architecture and design and, at the same time, you combine it with the rustic spontaneity of straw and the innate simplicity of this wood,” says Citterio.

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The Tessa outdoor armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

The Tessa armchair is the culmination of hand-made knowledge and contemporary ingenuity. Its structure is built entirely from solid ash or turned Canaletto walnut, all coming together using traditional joinery that require an expert’s understanding of craft. The back rest and seat in paper rush cord, loop and weave around the solid, supple frame of the chair. These heritage techniques allow for the essence, texture, and spirit of the natural materials to take center stage.

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The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

“How do you offset one thing against another? So, maybe you design something very delicate and then you need to balance it with its opposite: Tessa embodies precisely this logic,” says Citterio. The depth of feel and look of the woven paper rush cord is grounded by the precise design and making of the armchair’s wood frame. A further touch of comfort can be layered on by way of subtle straps with the addition of soft cushions in complimentary fabrics.

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The Tessa outdoor armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

The warm feeling reminiscent of a favorite summer holiday the Tessa armchair invokes makes its outdoor counterpart even more fitting. The Tessa outdoor armchair feels right at home in nature, connecting us with its solid turned iroko wood frame and hand-woven polypropylene cord seat and backrest. Optional in a range of colors, it sits perfectly in dialogue with its surroundings—on a patio, balcony, deck, or poolside.

The outdoors have become even more of an oasis over the past year, providing a sense of ease in unfortunately uneasy times. The Tessa outdoor armchair embodies that connection to our natural environment with the relaxation, respite, and recall of time with loved ones we all crave.

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The Tessa armchair by Antonio Citterio Flexform, courtesy of Flexform.

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