Date of appearance: 1966
Designer: Gruppo Strum
Manufacturer: Gufram s.r.I., Balangero, Italy
Dimensions: 140 × 140 × 95 cm
Material: cold-foamed polyurethane, green varnish
Tags: chair, armchair

“Pratone” (Large Lawn) is an allegory of a longing for nature which came to the fore during the second half of the sixties as part of the hippie protest against a glutted consumer society. Pop Art, and psychedelic experiences were featured via enlargement, graphic processing, and “softening.” Thus, “Pratone” confronts us as an artificial, mutant, and trivialized piece of nature, sparking feelings of curiosity and conflict in the observer. The passivity of sitting is portrayed as behavior typical of consumerism and juxtaposed to sensual aspects. Users first have to create a seat from the sculptural, cold impression given by this chair. Natural landscape has become a garden landscape, and, ultimately, an interior landscape, a domesticated playground. The fact that this playground can be enlarged as one wishes by joining together a number of “Pratone” elements corresponds to the concept of community and “happenings.” However, the material (green, varnished polyurethane foam) takes the yearning for nature to the point of absurdity. It is not clear whether sitting “on the lawn” is intended as a lost idyll or should be seen ironically as an outdated utopia. This is left up to the user. At the end of the sixties, the introduction of polyurethane foam was sensational in furniture design, although there are few pieces in which the features and effects of the materials were employed as consciously and overtly as in “Pratone.” The early pieces that have survived until today are no longer suitable for use, as the material becomes brittle and cracked with age. In 1986, the Gufram company decided to limit the production run to 200 pieces. Between 1986 and 1996, the company manufactured 16 “Pratone” objects, which were primarily sold to museums and galleries. Gufram had produced a total of approximately 60 “Pratone” up to that point in time. No information is available on current sales. MK