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Vol. 33 No. 4
July-August 2011

Stamps International |

See also www.iupac.org/publications/ci/indexes/stamps.html


A Day to Remember

Every two years, chemists from around the world congregate for a weeklong celebration of teaching, a fresh look at the latest research in the field, and the joy of being in a unique venue for international networking and communication. The 43rd IUPAC World Chemistry Congress, well positioned to underscore the value of “Chemistry Bridging Innovation Among the Americas and the World” in the International Year of Chemistry, will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 31 July to 5 August 2011.

As the Congress theme suggests, innovation and creativity drive change. Thus, this note is a tribute to the ubiquitous polypropylene stacking chair and its creator, Robin Day, often touted as the most influential British furniture designer of the 20th century, who died last November at the age of 95.

The stamp illustrated herein is part of a colorful set of 10 stamps issued by the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail on 13 January 2009 to celebrate British design classics, which also include the Concorde, the Mini, and the Anglepoise lamp. The original chair designed by Day in 1962 was injection molded from polypropylene, the versatile thermoplastic polymer that had been developed only a few years earlier by the Italian chemist and Nobel laureate Giulio Natta (1954). It quickly became a staple at public seating places, from airports and sport arenas to restaurants and hospital waiting rooms, due to its simple yet comfortable design and its low cost and durability. Almost 50 years after the introduction of the polypropylene chair, it is worth remembering how a spark of creative genius may have a long-lasting effect on the goods that we all use and abuse, and sometimes even take for granted.

Written by Daniel Rabinovich <drabinov@uncc.edu>.


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