Catifa 46 Chair by Lievore Altherr Molina

In 2004, the Italian manufacturer ARPER introduced its Catifa 46 chair, laying the foundation for the celebrated family.

Of all Arper’s crisply contemporary designs, its ever-evolving Catifa family is one of its biggest sellers. This leading Italian furniture brand has sold over 2m Catifa 46 chairs since 2011 and, such is the demand for this sleek seating, that the Catifa family has steadily expanded over the years. It’s not surprising. The Catifa chair’s slender yet curvilinear, sensual silhouette is aesthetically pleasing. It is also functional and highly versatile: its chairs, lounge chairs, stools and benches are available in myriad finishes, come in a wide range of bases and accessories and are covered in a huge choice of fabrics or leather. Intended for contract and residential projects requiring compact, unimposing furniture, the Catifa collections have all been designed by established Spanish trio Lievore Altherr Molina.

Co-founded in 1989 by Luigi Feltrin and his sons Mauro and Claudio, Arper began collaborating with internationally renowned designers in the early Noughties, initially producing pieces by Lievore Altherr Molina, then by James Irvine, creator of the Juno chair, and Simon Pengelly, who dreamt up the Nuur table, which was awarded the 22nd Golden Compass award in 2011 for ‘its feeling of exceptional lightness and attention to detail in its design’.

For indoor and outdoor use and launched in 2004, Catifa 46 is Arper’s most iconic furniture collection and a long-term bestseller. It is the younger sister of Catifa 53, the first member of the family, launched in 2001. Seven Catifa collections have been created to date — others include Catifa 60, Catifa 70, Catifa 80, Catifa Sensit, launched in 2014, which boasts an ergonomic, inclining seat. The most recent one, Catifa Up, of 2017, is a development of Catifa 53 but features a higher backrest and optional armrests.

The name Catifa was carefully chosen: meaning carpet in Catalan, it evokes a rug caught in the wind, curling up and taking flight. This dynamic image perfectly captures the protean character of the chair, which encompasses many permutations, while retaining its essential form. What’s more, the Catifa chair’s sinuous backrest is suggestive of movement and freedom yet provides firm, embracing, ergonomic support.

Original family member Catifa 53 provided the template for all the ensuing collections in terms of flexibility: Catifa chairs can come with several types of frames and legs, including with four legs in chromed, brushed or painted stainless steel, a sled base in chromed steel, a cantilevered, chromed steel base incorporating armrests or swivel bases in chromed or brushed stainless steel on self-braking castors. Launched in 2006, Catifa 80 is a lounge chair with a low backrest and generously broad seat. Consistent with other Catifa designs, it is sleek and slender.

In 2016, Arper unveiled another iteration of Catifa 46 at the Salone del Mobile in Milan — chairs in a spectrum of delicate, on-trend hues: Ivory, Turtledove Grey, Yellow, Old Pink, Petroleum Blue. These come in a monochrome shade or can be customised by juxtaposing two colours from the same palette, lending this twist on Catifa 46 a satisfying unity. Thanks to a choice of fabric textures and finishes on the shell, the chairs can be tailor-made even more to suit individual tastes.

The beauty of the Catifa concept is that it’s open-ended and open-minded. It is anyone’s guess how it will evolve but it is sure to spawn new yet enduringly appealing collections.

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