The Ring Chair

Steel and a Soft Twist

Maria Pergay’s Ring chair stands out among innovative chair design in the late 1960s. Europe had induced a boon of creativity, spurring artists and designers to re-evaluate the traditions authoring the primary objectives of usable objects and furniture. Major trends were underway, breaking accepted molds of how design is placed and positioned in interiors. This new program of design is neither function nor purpose, but rather a celebration of material, space and philosophy.

Early on Pergay had been asked to decorate storefronts and window displays, her small intimate work was lauded by respected fashion heavyweights, and artists like Salvador Dali, among many others. Established names like Hermès and Dior had taken an affinity to Pergay through her smaller objects and goods. In 1967, while still designing furniture in more traditional mediums, she was approached by Gerard Martel of Ugine-Gueugnon—a noted steel manufacturer, prompting her to introduce and develop two pieces of furniture designed nearly entirely out of steel—the Ring chair and the Flying Carpet daybed. At the time, precious materials carried more tangible value to the greater buying populace, and Pergay’s humble adoration of the industrial medium was a revelation. Pergay’s first exhibition was held at the Parisian Galerie Maison et Jardin in 1968—approximately one year into the start of her steel design campaign and lifelong passion. Pierre Cardin is noted for buying out the entire exhibition. Pergay has been quoted that the Ring chair was inspired by an orange peel removed with a single cut. The simple idea of a culinary cutting technique, paired with a rigid and otherwise impersonal material, transformed the design into a soft floating piece of art, resting atop a pair of sabre legs. In sum, the weightless appearance of the chair epitomizes the designer’s vision and has forever added Pergay to the annals of design history.

A model posing next to a Ring chair in a period fashion advertisement from the 1970s

The present pair of Ring chairs were purchased in the early 1970s in New York at the Harvey Probber showroom by the current owners. Probber maintained exclusivity of selling Pergay’s work in the United States until approximately 1972. It is incredibly rare to find a true pair of these chairs that have been together since they were originally acquired.

Copper is too fragile, aluminum too light, gold too symbolic, silver too weak, bronze is out of fashion, and platinum inaccessible… Nothing is more beautiful than steel. 

—Maria Pergay