Delve into The Secret Archive of Cassina and discover the Refuge Tonneau, a futuristic space shuttle-mountain shelter on show for the first time at the Die Neue Sammlung International Design Museum

16 - 24 February, 2013

During the Munich Creative Business Week at the Die Neue Sammlung International Design Museum Cassina will reveal some of its best kept secrets from its historical archives. Prototypes of pieces from the 1970’s to the present, belonging to the actual collection (La Mise sofa by Luca Nichetto) and past collections (Midway 1 chair by Frank Lloyd Wright), as well as important models for research and development that were never produced (Bruco and Teneride by Mario Bellini), reveal the authentic spirit of the brand which launched industrial design in Italy in the 1950’s.
From industry to culture, Cassina and Die Neue Sammlung will also exhibit the first complete reconstruction of the Refuge Tonneau designed by Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret in 1938.
Thanks to Cassina’s reconstruction, the German public will now be able to see the refuge for the first time and witness the visionary intuition and skill of these two great architects in furnishing minimal

The Secret Archive of Cassina
Cassina’s Historical Archives contain a tangible heritage of a company that, over 85 years of history, has become a landmark of quality and an emblem for research and experimentation in the design industry.
The Collection is a documented memory of the company's products, not only of the furniture in production, but also of study models, of molds for their implementation and of research prototypes that represent the expression of a desire to develop exploration projects both technically and formally.
An organised system of physical findings attached to an archive of information consisting of significant documentation of photographs, correspondence, sketches, preparatory drawings, technical drawings, catalogues, posters and invitations.
The models in Cassina’s Historical Archives tell the story of an industry, but at the same time explore the set of human, social, poetic, technical and communicational aspects that the models reflect. They belong to different ages and inform us about the technical development of lifestyle and the relational changes between man and the design product.
Every reading of these documents is an opportunity to discover more details and secrets, to take different points of view from which to observe historical events, to weave the threads of a story. The Historical Archives tell a tale that draws freely on the facts of history, extrapolating them from temporal succession and reworking them according to different interpretations.

The Refuge Tonneau

1938 - 2012. The visionary power of a mountain shelter inspired by a children’s fairground ride
Charlotte Perriand, a great lover of the mountains, had already envisaged a prototype of a mobile mountain refuge in 1936. Two years later, together with Pierre Jeanneret, she developed a unique and advanced model of the Refuge Tonneau. Her bizarre source of inspiration was a children’s fairground ride photographed in Croatia. The idea from this light and itinerant structure was the metal frame consisting of a central pole and a top reminiscent of a large umbrella with twelve spokes.

An authentic masterpiece of mobile architecture for extreme weather conditions
The dodecahedron structure, initially envisaged for all of the mountains in the Alps, was a remarkable precursor to a number of projects developed decades later, such as the Concordia stations in the Antarctic from 2002 and the Mars Society Desert Research Station from 2011. The framework of this compact space shuttle -shelter is made from industrial materials, such as aluminium for the panels, chosen for its lightness, which are easy to assemble and disassemble. The round ports and the volumes recall the aeronautic world. The shape is designed so as not to resist the wind. The piles provide stability even on the most uneven and steep terrain. The interior of the shelter is made from pinewood which, despite its minimalism, gives the ambience a natural and welcoming feel.

Room for eight. A Spartan oasis complete of all necessities. Discover the ingeniously detailed organisation of the interiors
The door, designed to keep out the cold, opens into a small space divided into a ground floor with four single beds and a mezzanine with two double beds, able to host up to eight people. The space clearly presented an intriguing challenge for Charlotte Perriand, who had always loved examining and exploring the practices that facilitate the gestures that create a bond between man and furniture in confined spaces.
Highly attentive to the arrangement (layout), Charlotte Perriand finds a place for everything. The heater is inside the central steel pillar and warms the entire interior whilst occupying as little space as possible. The beds on the ground floor can be folded away, thanks to a system of leather belts inspired by the train sleeper carts of that time, and transformed into seating to be used during the day. The minute kitchen area is made up of a wooden worktop that houses a steel washbasin where snow can be melted. Next to this are containers for basic staple foods, a shelf for the little camping stove, a place for storing rucksacks and a ski rack. Every piece of furniture is in fact a small masterpiece of functionality and beauty, a solution that fits intelligently with the others, an attentive consideration of the requirements of those that live the mountains, the cold and nature in an intense way, and seek a moment to relax and recharge the batteries.

The public finally has a chance to get a close-up view of this original mobile mountain refuge
No longer just a design described in books, but a 3D object that one can touch and view up-close to be able to understand the innovative nature of a mobile piece of architecture for extreme environments.

Cassina’s guiding philosophy: produce an authentic reconstruction of the work
Cassina has developed a faithful reproduction on the basis of drawings, notes and furnishings already produced by Charlotte Perriand in other projects for the home. After the 2006 reconstruction of the Cabanon, Le Corbusier’s summer home, Cassina has developed another cultural project that enables people to come inside this visionary structure, which would otherwise have remained unknown.
The Refuge Tonneau took shape thanks to the passionate research that Cassina carried out on the original sketches, drawings and notes of the two authors. A major commitment, pursued with a spirit of great affinity and harmony, aimed at interpreting and realising, as faithfully as possible, the real intentions of two of the most prominent figures of the modern movement and the Cassina I Maestri Collection. The entire operation took place in close collaboration with the daughter of Charlotte Perriand, Pernette Perriand-Barsac, her assistant for 20 years, and with Cassina’s entire legacy of know-how, industrial technologies, material expertise and innovative capacities matured over the years.