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One chair, two ways.

In contrast to my product design studio projects, this furniture design project includes no user or market research. The following form development is based on basic ergonomic principles and aesthetic design choices.

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Furniture exists at a human scale. It provides unique experiences as lines of sight change and forms either succeed or fail to accommodate our bodies. I set out to make a piece of furniture that could teach me something about the design of human experiences as a whole.




I began exploring forms through 3D renders, and settled on a steel frame which holds a seat between two wooden sides. I imagine sitting between these structures would be exciting. Should the user's eyeline be above the top of the wooden structures or within them?


Translating this idea into the real world starts with scale models.

The most important challenge to test is the bent-wood-frames. I only have 4 weeks for the project, so I need to find a method that scales easily.

I'm able to steam bend a few test pieces in my kitchen, but I'm not confident that I can repeat this at scale.


My birch plywood has a thick veneer and brittle core which yield an uneven radius and poor surface finish when bent using kerf cuts. Under the time pressure, I decided to move on to fabricating the steel frame.


The X-shaped frame will connect the seat to the sides. It's quick to weld together test frames, so I take a few days to experiment with ways to connect the frame to the seat. How can I use this geometry to create the feeling of being suspended in the middle of the chair?

   Final Concept   

The final design uses a lattice of cotton rope to hang the seat panels inside the negative space of the frame. Because the frame is not horizontally symmetric, the user can orient the chair in one of two 'modes':

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The high-chair orientation puts my line of sight above the mass of the chair. With my feet off the ground, and my arms resting on the 'tank tracks' beside me I feel powerful but ridiculous. Sitting in it during critique felt like driving an escalade through an art museum. 

The low-chair orientation places me within the chair. The frame of the chair forms a protective shell, making the seat feel like an enclosed cockpit. In this orientation the side walls provide protection and privacy.

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By interacting with a human-scale object in multiple orientations, I understand how a change in perspective has the capacity to change an experience. 


I believe that all design is about discovering the sorts of experiences we wish to have, and creating a comfortable point of view from which those experiences can be made.

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