1953 Cavalletto / History

The Cavalletto furnishing system is made entirely of wood. It was designed and patented over fifty years ago now, but still startles us for its versatility and functionality.

In this project some of the principles of the Compensato tables gain their full extension as it introduces a key theme in Mangiarotti’s work: thinking in systems, almost as if he were more interested in laying out frameworks and systems rather than a finished product.

Its distinctive feature is a trestle in the shape of an upturned “V”, which means it is superimposable by means of a simple gravity joint, and whose special perimeter section can accommodate bookshelves or closed containers, locking and holding them in position by means of an authentic "dovetail" joint.

Democratic design and prefabrication of elements are hallmark characteristics of this project. This, seemingly simple, composable and modular system, smartly pre-dates by quite a few years the, now famous, IKEA flat pack strategy (1956) and with its no-bolts-needed joinery, it is smarter than the patent filed in 1953 for the same purpose in the US. No wonder that Cavalletto soon became very popular, was featured in lots of designer furnishing in the days and was widely published in leading international magazines at the time.

Cavalletto has now been brought back to life, evergreen right down to its very core. Yet re-editing the project was no simple feat. Seemingly simple, the system is actually quite complex to manufacture even (and maybe because of) today’s automated CNC manufacturing technologies. The precision needed by the edges featuring dovetail joints still require a considerable amount of manual work (widely available and much more affordable at the time of the projects first edition) and fine detailing to ensure that our quality standards are met.