One of the Holy Grails of modernism was a chair formed from a single piece of material. Such a chair would be structurally unified, and also inexpensive to mass-produce. Many of the pioneering architects of the last century experimented with this ideal, but none of them got close enough for their designs to go beyond the prototype stage (the hugely innovative Gerrit Rietveld, who was particularly interested in this design Challenge, came closest). The difficulty lay not in the quality of the architects' imaginations, but in the availability of suitable materials. It was only after WWII that technology became capable of making these dreams a reality. Molded plywood, fiberglass-reinforced polyester, die-cast aluminum, and injection-molded plastics all showed promise at various times.
The first one-piece, molded plastic chair (actually, molded fiberglass-reinforced polyester) was designed in the late 1960s by Vico Magistretti. The Selene, a side chair, was followed by the Gaudi, an armchair, and then-in 1971-The Vicario, a wide lounge chair. The structural requirements of the molded fiberglass these chairs were made of resulted in a curvaceousness that was aesthetically pitch-perfect for the era. In 1972, Magistretti's Vicario chair was exhibited at the landmark MOMA exhibition “Italy: the New Domestic Landscape.” I very clearly remember that show, a formative experience for an 11-year-old enthusiastic about both Italian things and futuristic things.