Seating: Focus: Normal, Active, PassiveWhen Copenhagen-based Fritz Hansen approached Kasper Salto in January 2008 to design a new chair for the company’s portfolio that would come in at a lower price point, yet exude the same Danish design sensibility as Salto’s previous Fritz Hansen introductions—the Runner (1997) and Ice (2002) chairs—the former cabinetmaker posed a question to himself: What is a chair? He decided, “It can be anything—from a stone to a box of beer. It’s a pit stop, where we eat, work, communicate, and relax. I had to wipe the slate clean and look at it from a new perspective.” Salto adds, “We wanted to come into the market at a lower price point and create something affordable but not cheap. And it was important to focus on one thing: just make a very good, comfortable, chair.”
The driving directives were that the new chair comfortably accommodate the three main sitting positions: normal, active, and passive, which spells out N.A.P. And so evolved the NAP chair, which Fritz Hansen introduced at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair in April. “We needed a chair in this price segment,” says Glenn Ludwig, vice president at Fritz Hansen. “The material plastic and a steel-tube base were predefined, but the form was up to Kasper. Apart from that, the design had to live up to a lot of functional demands.” Having worked with Fritz Hansen on products for the past 12 years, Salto says he understands the types of products the 138-year old Danish furniture manufacturer is seeking. However, Salto adds, “I had to deal with the fact that I’m designing for Fritz Hansen in the midst of all classic designs—like the Egg, Swan, and PK 39. I had to be aware, yet I had to find my own path.”
Salto’s path led him to create an iconic chair that complements the range of Fritz Hansen products, yet promises to continue offering solutions into the future. Salto says, “Like in nature, some pieces become extinct and go out of production. We should all think about making things that would not go out of production, if possible”—the most simplistic definition of “sustainability” is something long lasting and performing. The affordable, slim-profile, stacking NAP chair is constructed of a nylon shell, which is slightly more expensive than polypropylene, but creates a more durable product.
NAP is available in black and white, with and without arms, with an optional seat cushion. Salto considered creating the arms from separate molds then gluing them on, but for durability’s sake, he designed the NAP armchair as one continuous piece with the arms branching out from the seat and back. The sinuous form of NAP not only responds to the way users sit, but its hourglass shape is particularly conducive to stacking up to eight chairs high. Legs are powder-coated or available in chrome. Salto particularly likes that the leg color matches the seat and back so that the chair is one color from all sides. Ridges on the seat create traction in addition to an interesting design aesthetic. Even the back and underside of NAP is “designed;” a high-gloss finish creates visual appeal from all angles.