Object Timeline

1976

  • Work on this object began.

2016

2021

  • You found it!

Cab 412 Dining Chair

This is a dining chair. It was designed by Mario Bellini and manufactured by Cassina S.p.A. It is dated Designed 1976, this example manufactured 1996 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is butted leather over tubular steel, plastic. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Designed for Cassina in 1976, and still in production today, Bellini’s Cab No. 412 chair embodies one of Bellini’s unique contributions to the design world: his development of a “skin” or “stretched membrane” for objects. The Cab No. 412 is a tubular steel frame that is concealed by a leather cover that "dresses" the chair. It has four zippers running along the inside of its legs and a plastic plate that supports its seat. Bellini transposed the idea for the chair’s cover from his designs for typewriters and electronic devices at Olivetti (creating tactile user-friendly interfaces for his designs) and upholstered furniture. Creating a sophisticated and minimal aesthetic, Bellini reimagined the tubular steel chair—an icon of modern design—by hiding its celebrated metal construction.

Postdating his career with Olivetti, where he began as designer of the company’s systems, machine supports, and terminals before becoming the company’s chief design consultant, this chair was in keeping with Bellini’s practice of designing housings for mechanical objects. In 1987, MoMA held the first retrospective of Bellini’s work, for which he described his Cab series: “There is an inside steel frame and an outside leather suit or jacket—I don’t know what to call it. Put it on and zip it up and you get the chair. The two parts of the chair cannot live without each other: it’s not covered by leather, it’s made out of leather and steel.” [1] The Cab No. 412 chair marks Bellini’s early career in furniture and industrial design, and reflects his attention to surfaces.
[1] Cara McCarty and Mario Bellini, Mario Bellini: Designer (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1987), 2–3.

This object was donated by David Teiger Trust. It is credited Gift of the David Teiger Trust.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 81.3 × 47 × 45.7 cm (32 in. × 18 1/2 in. × 18 in.)

Cite this object as

Cab 412 Dining Chair; Designed by Mario Bellini (Italian, b. 1935); butted leather over tubular steel, plastic; H x W x D: 81.3 × 47 × 45.7 cm (32 in. × 18 1/2 in. × 18 in.); Gift of the David Teiger Trust; 2016-36-5

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/823323085/ |title=Cab 412 Dining Chair |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=8 December 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>