The Most Famous Plastic Chair: The Monobloc

The Most Famous Plastic Chair: The Monobloc

Maxwell Ryan
Jan 8, 2010

It takes about ten days to fall in love with this chair, the monobloc white plastic chair, but sure enough, you really come to love these things for their comfort, lightness and intelligent use of physical planes in support of the human body. Some are, however, more aesthetically appealing than others, so I logged all the different kinds I could find at the retreat center last Saturday (after silence was lifted, of course)(see below).

Monobloc's at Manila´s Metropolitan Museum (Photo from postcool´s flickr.)

While I've fallen in love with these guys once before, their ubiquitous nature has not been lost on others. Jens Thiel has created a whole blog around tracking the design and development of the monobloc all around the world since 2004. You can check him out here:


Monoblocs at Wanzhou – Three Gorges Reservoir (Photo from Christian Y. Schmidt)

My favorite of all the ones I sat in was this one, made in Italy, but otherwise with no distinctive markings. It had the best bones and a much more appealing aesthetic. In my mind, it was the Porsche of these chairs.

At the Vipassana Center, they'd also come up with a remarkable little hack that made the chairs MUCH better. Cutting open tennis balls and taping them to the feet made the chairs silent against the floor and gave them a nicer weight (that they otherwise lacked). It also helped them from breaking or tossing the sitter, as the back legs slid back instead of buckling, which happens often.

Where to buy the best ones? You can find a ton of there here in Google, but I don't have a perfect answer here. However, rather than own these things, one day I plan to take the Italian one and have it cast in aluminum, so I can have my own set solid design icons in a more upscale material.

Four More Variations on The Basic Design

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