halfway through the 1980s, alberto meda, who had recently left his post as technical director of kartell, began to experiment with carbon fiber to investigate possible uses of composite technology in creating everyday objects. the industrial designer collaborated with italian design company alias to produce an extremely lightweight set of chairs: lightlight in 1987; and softlight in 1989. the chairs were produced in nomex®, a composite ‘honeycomb’ type of polyamide, and unidirectional carbon fabric coverings – usually utilized to make strong, light components for the aerospace, racing sectors and most recently in the sporting world (tennis rackets, skis and fishing poles). in these industries it pays to manufacture products that are light and resistant.

alberto meda's carbon fiber chairs for alias weight only 1 kg

all images courtesy of alberto meda, header right image courtesy of phillips



alberto meda‘s idea of the chairs came from experimental research on the technology of composites to investigate possible uses of it in creating everyday objects. designed for alias, lightlight and softlight chairs were manufactured using this process and were among the first applications of composite materials in the furnishing industry. 50 prototypes were produced of the lightlight chair, each of which weighting only 1 kg. this model is now part of the permanent collection of the museum of modern art, new york and the indianapolis museum of art.


‘lightness makes us dream, its secret cannot be revealed. lightness leads to unpredictable solutions.’

alberto meda's carbon fiber chairs for alias weight only 1 kg



‘I have always been against the idea of the engineer as a person concerned only with technical matters,’ says the milan-based designer. ‘engineers are not generally expected to have an aesthetic attitude; and I suppose this limitation stems from the kind of training they get, whereby an engineer’s job is to deal with production processes, calculations and structures…I have always found that unacceptable and rebelled against it, because it means separating thinking from doing…it wasn’t easy to get myself accepted as a designer because until then everybody had thought of me only as a consultant or technologist.’

alberto meda's carbon fiber chairs for alias weight only 1 kgalberto meda's carbon fiber chairs for alias weight only 1 kg