Rigour and Minimalism: a Response to 1980s Postmodernism. The ZEUS Story

Tables, chairs and bookcases highlight the industrial aesthetics of metal with an essential, total black design. A coherent trajectory from its beginnings, with the first 'off' events in the via Vigevano showroom in Milan during Salone del Mobile. A journey to discover the historic Milanese brand ZEUS

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28/10/2022 - â€‹ZEUS metal furniture is born from the vision of preserving craft in the age of technology with timeless and sustainable creations. Tables, chairs, bookcases and sideboards produced in limited series with simple and rigorous forms. 

How ZEUS was born

Founded in Milan in 1984, ZEUS contrasted postmodernism colour and excess with a highly synthetic design of minimal and total black furniture. 

The four founders chose ZEUS as their name, the divinity par excellence, thus creating an iconic, recognisable brand: a square containing three bars, fashion, art and design. The sign, black, almost graphic, and willingly deprived of colour, assumes the value of linear essentiality, from which you could develop a linguistic system full of variants and open to read material contamination.
Early designs include t-shirts and ties, fabrics and furnishings. The ZEUS group, with an attitude that would be defined as ‘understatement’ today, became the author of everything: the graphics, design, art, fashion.
The founders of ZEUS in the 1980s 2

The founders of ZEUS in the 1980s

Since the very beginning, ZEUS has its own showroom, a shop designed in complete freedom by Maurizio Peregalli,  today's CEO and creative director. The temple in via Vigevano becomes immediately a unique and inevitable landmark of avant-garde and minimalist design, functioning as an exposition and communication space as well as a meeting point for designers and artisans.

During Salone del Mobile in 1985, ZEUS presented the Archetipo collection composed of Sedia, Tavolo, Poltroncina, Savonarola and Panca. "Essential furniture, attentive not only to form but also to material and economy of the whole", as its creator Maurizio Peregalli explains. At the time, Fuorisalone did not exist, and it was the first time a young company presented itself in its own showroom.

The 'All night long Party' was  held on Saturday evening. There was no opening - just word of mouth that attracted the big names in design and retailers intrigued by the great movement. The yet-to-be-invented Fuorisalone was born.
The 'Together in September' presentations, staged by Zeus in conjunction with Salone del Mobile, continued for years, remaining the quintessential party, an authentic must. 
The ZEUS event in the via Vigevano showroom during the Salone del Mobile 3

The ZEUS event in the via Vigevano showroom during the Salone del Mobile

As the years went by, ZEUS kept growing, and in 1995 it moved to a different industrial complex, an old garage. The space strikes for its dimensions and for its 1950’s architecture, becoming the new 1000 sq m showroom a stone’s throw from the Navigli district, the beating heart of Milan.
Zeus Showroom in Corso San Gottardo 4

Zeus Showroom in Corso San Gottardo

ZEUS production from metal to industrial materials

"The first SEDIA and the first TAVOLO were born from an inner inspiration, a need to discover materials, put them together, overlap and make them coexist in forms that express my rigor, born from an education in the essence of things, born and raised in a country context where simplicity coexists and dominates with function, both for economy and tradition", says Peregalli.
Table and chair of Archetipo collection 5

Table and chair of Archetipo collection

ZEUS main material is metal, worked with finishes that enhance its materiality, combined with easily available industrial materials, distorting the use for which they were originally designed:  linoleum for floors is then used to cover tables, while Pirelli millepunte rubber of car mats becomes a seat chair, and extruded rubber is used for backs and armrests.
High stool composed of a black embossed painted metal structure and a black thousand points rubber 6

High stool composed of a black embossed painted metal structure and a black thousand points rubber

"I work on the materials as well as on shapes, with a focus on the relationship between motion, material and colour", says Peregalli. "I don’t always start from a drawing. I like to work on potentialities of materials – whether they’re real or imagined. All products are made by hand, one by one. I know beforehand how much they’re meant to cost, the design and the shape are based on these imperatives: technique and cost of production. The style is essential, it’s direct, it's influenced by my personal history, too by work, the passion I have for the materia and what it can express through its shape."

 ZEUS collection is made by artisans in the Modena and Milan factories: "each step is done by hand, from bending to welding, up to surface treatment, allowing us to take care of every detail in the best way possible, and meet the various customization needs for projects.
ZEUS ART is the highest expression of our experimentation with materials: products with artistic, handcrafted finishes, deliberately irregular and unpredictable and therefore unique and precious".

Tondella, the new collection in ribbed steel

Almost 40 years later, the idea has remained the same; during Fuorisalone 2022 ZEUS presented Tondella chair, design by Maurizio Peregalli, whose frame is made of ribbed steel rod, generally used in industrial contexts. Each seat is a unique piece, handmade and with visible welding, which emphasize the ZEUS craftsmanship.
Tondella chair 7

Tondella chair

TONDELLA is stackable, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and available in embossed white, gunmetal grey and a new metal brown finish that brings out the structural details. The Tondella chair matches the super-minimal design of the sheet metal bookcase bearing the same name.
Tondella bookcase and chair 8

Tondella bookcase and chair

Tondella chair 9

Tondella chair

Tondella chair 10

Tondella chair

Table and chairs of Archetipo collection 11

Table and chairs of Archetipo collection

Tondella chair 12

Tondella chair

Detail of chair 13

Detail of chair

Detail of Rust table 14

Detail of Rust table

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