Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Street" Seat

There is one more project that I developed as part of my thesis, which I hadn't yet revealed.

In the spirit of empowering New Yorkers to get out of the office at lunchtime, I wanted to create a portable seat that you could pop out whenever you needed a place to sit on the streets of NYC.

My primary point of creative departure was a plain old brown paper bag. Brown bags have so much character, and they are perfect icons of lunch (especially in these "dire economic times"). And it turns out, when you flip a bag upside down, it pretty much looks like a seat.

I did a ton of exploring. I made seat models that could open and close like a bag, seats that could be used as a bag, seats that folded like origami, seats with inner went on and on...I think I started to drive myself a little bit crazy trying to figure out how to make the chair fold up easily, while also making it feel new and different, while also capturing a sense of "bagness".

So here comes the twist in the story:
My furniture class was also involved in a semester-long competition sponsored by Wilsonart laminate. Participating students had to design a sittable chair covered (mostly) in Wilsonart laminate. We also had to incorporate the iconic Wilsonart laminate chip somewhere into the design. Also, the chair had to look really good in a print ad.

I love a good competition, so I decided to try and create a chair that worked for both my thesis, and for the competition. (You see why I haven't mentioned this project got pretty twisted...)

In the end, my seat doesn't fold up, but it does sort of look like a piece of origami meets paper bag. I am happy with it, but I do think it lost its link to the streets. Live and learn, but at least it looks good in my apt :)

After finalizing the design (white foam core images below), I hired Adam Apostolis in the metal shop at Pratt to make it in steel. He did a wonderful job, and it was hard to cover up his beautiful work.

But cover it up I did. Below is the final image of the chair, outfitted in hand-cut Wilsonart laminate pieces. My design will be featured at the ICFF at the Javits Center this May as part of the Wilsonart booth, along with the winning design and those of several other finalists.
I hope to see you there!

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