Antonio Citterio and Partners | The Plan
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Antonio Citterio and Partners

Antonio Citterio

1992 saw Citterio complete two projects for furniture manufacturer Vitra: the Visavis chair series, and Vitra’s new furniture factory in Neuenburg, Germany. At first glance his chairs seem near replicas of the famous small armchairs designed by Mies for the Tugendhat house. But a closer look - at the chair back, for example - shows how Citterio has not sacrificed physical comfort to purity of line or opted for the austerity of absolutely logical form at the expense of the sensual pleasure of matter. We are on a totally different conceptual planet. Known as High Touch, it is a whole new approach to design and architecture. Although High Touch has been around for some time - especially among Italian designers - it has largely been developed by individuals. As a result, unlike with High Tech or de-constructivism, its practitioners are not aware they are part of a new trend. High Touch springs from the need to reconsider technological innovation in terms of its positive contribution to enhancing perceptions and relations, though not forgetting the danger of taking it to excess. In contrast to “organicism” and “expressionism”, High Touch eschews the complex, fractal, all-embracing forms of nature. But also the wholly subjective approach, and most definitely, the myth of the architect as the all powerful creator. High Touch people espouse research and experimentation. They have little truck with abstract questions of language. High Touch practitioners disdain stereotype products passed off as signature items. They assert the right to experiment with well known forms, developing on models and prototypes that are part of recent history. They attempt to wed design - still a craft practice - with the latest industrial production methods. But their main concern is how an object relates to its user and how technology can be humanised, made appealing and sensual, not inhuman, abstract or even hostile. Summed up like this, several contemporary Italian architects, usually classed...

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