Homage to Joe Colombo

Kartell remasters an iconic chair in tribute to one of furniture's most innovative Italian designers


To commemorate the life and work of Joe Colombo, Italian design company Kartell has reissued his iconic 4801 chair. Designed in 1965, the 4801 was the first of 12 objects that Colombo created for Kartell until his premature death in 1971. In conjunction with the new release, Kartell is hosting “Homage to Joe Colombo”, an exhibition at the R20th Century gallery in collaboration with the Joe Colombo Archives.


While Colombo’s work ranged from abstract expressionist painting to architecture, he is best remembered for his mass-produced interior design objects. The “Universale” chair—the first seating element to be made entirely of injection-moulded ABS—is still in production, and his landmark designs have been included at the MoMA, the V&A and Centre Pompidou. His designs often incorporate flexibility and modularity, paving the way for contemporary RTA furniture makers.

Due to the technicality of the 4801, Colombo’s design was never produced as intended with ABS. Instead, multiple pieces of pressed plywood were fastened with metal and glue to accommodate the chair’s non-traditional form. Kartell’s reissue utilizes updated manufacturing techniques to realize the production according to the Colombo’s original vision.


The exhibition will feature 10 of the pieces that Colombo designed for Kartell over the years alongside archival photographs of and sketches. Opening today, “Homage to Joe Colombo” runs for two weeks with the 4801 available for $2,790 through Kartell.