When fashion house Dior set up its first boutique on 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, 1946, it was characterized by simple and modern interiors but with classical features. Founder Christian Dior believed essential French aesthetics resided in the Palace of Versailles, and adored especially the oval-backed medallion chair said to have been used by Louis the 16th, featuring it frequently in boutiques and fashion shows. The chair became an icon of the maison, later appearing as a visual element for perfume bottles and advertisements.
Eighteen groups of creatives were invited to 2021 Milan design week to showcase new works inspired by the medallion chair. A decision was made to reinterpret this classical chair using state-of-the-art technology in continuation of the vision of our founding, “graceful fusion of modernity and tradition.” The glass is a single sheet of 1800 x 1100 mm, just 3.0 mm thick. While ordinary techniques only allow for bending as far as a U shape, a newly developed method enables a deeper, C-shaped curve. The curved glass sheet became the chair’s leg and back, and a separate glass sheet of 3.0mm thick formed into a dome was used as the seat. After shaping, the two pieces were immersed in potassium nitrate molten salt at 450℃ and then chemically hardened by cooling. The process consequently increases not only the hardness of the surface through ion exchange from sodium to potassium ions, but also the chair’s flexural strength and resistance to scratching. Last of all, the back and seat were bonded with a clear UV adhesive and silicone. The result is a comforting curvature and softness so unique as to raise doubts of its glass composition, despite its remarkable transparency. Alongside the fully transparent chairs, are frosted chairs, as well as ones in black and pink ombre that are evocative of the Dior brand, are produced. The oval cutout in the back of each one conveys the impression that the medallion chair’s most notable characteristic is floating delicately in midair.