Behind the scenes

A Dior icon: Martino Gamper explains his medallion chair

‘People come and go yet the chairs remain,’ the Italian designer said

Martino Gamper

Ask Martino Gamper to put in words his personal impression of Dior, and the answer you are likely to receive is somewhat staccato. “Classic elegance, quality and luxury,” said the Italian designer, who trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and London’s Royal College of Art, where he was taught by seminal tastemaker Ron Arad. “Art and fashion have always been connected, they inspire and nurture each other,” he added, and it was while partnering with Dior that he delved into the history and construction of one of the fashion house’s signature objects.

At Italian design fair Salone del Mobile in Milan last year, Gamper unveiled his interpretation of the medallion chair.

In the Louis XVI style, its oval-shaped back is crowned with a Fontanges bow, at Dior the medallion chair is something of an evergreen. Christian Dior first seated guests of his Paris fashion shows on medallion chairs and the furniture featured in the couturier’s boutiques and showrooms, too. It has driven creation since: its details have accented Dior perfume bottles, for example. And this year, it has inspired an international line-up of polymath creatives, Gamper among them.

Martino Gamper Dior Medallion chair

dior.com

“I reduced and removed some of the layers and historical complexity of the medallion chair to improve the comfort and to create a contemporary portrayal of this famous seat,” he said of his work, which frames the natural beauty of his materials. “My interpretation mixes different woods. Walnut, ash and beech. The wood will be visible, rather than the usual lacquered surface. The construction is made from bent wood elements, using state-of-the-art routing technology and then hand assembled by craftspeople in Italy. They will be upholstered in Dior fabric.” A couture chair, then.

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