The Chair: Material + Culture

droog-in-athens-yatzer_9 rag1

Project 01: 2020 Chair: Material + Culture
Design and build a full-scale chair prototype that leverages the unique properties of cardboard to address current issues/lifestyles in its materiality, detailing, fabrication, assembly, form and function. 

A New Chair for a New Era  

The La-Z-boy, the Chaise Lounge, the Bean Bag Chair, the Eames Side Chair – each capture the spirit of their respective ages (and an associated activity.)  The La-Z-Boy is a staple of sit-com television, both on and off the screen – from Archie Bunker in the 70’s to Homer Simpson today, the La-Z-boy is uniquely linked to the remote control and the overweight male patriarch.  The Chaise Lounge provided respite for corseted matrons in 19th Century French/English drawing rooms.  The Eames Side Chair evokes elementary school classrooms of the baby boomer 50’s and 60’s. And a bean bag chair conjures the smell of mildewy suburban basements and brittle collector card chewing gum of the 80’s.

This age, your age, has yet to have its defining ‘machine for sitting’.  What would it look like?  What values are embedded in it?  What kind of activity would it enable/promote?

Design Brief

The conceit for this project is that you, the designer, have the opportunity to present a chair concept and prototype to a group of investors looking to promote the multifunctional uses of cardboard.  They are interested in developing a product that will raise awareness of cardboard as a solution to issues of the day, including but not limited to sustainability.  Your solution should aim to address some aspect of our contemporary lifestyles and demonstrate the unique advantages of cardboard in achieving your goal.  The target consumer is your peer group and the product will likely be sold online.

Design Drivers – Material / Manipulation

We’ll begin by exploring the material properties of cardboard by developing a ‘catalog of manipulations.’  These manipulations will become tactics that we will use to drive the design process as we begin to try to solve the requirements of a chair, structure, function and the other parameters below.

Working in this way our goal will be to ensure that the solutions that arise will remain unique to the properties of the material.

Design Parameters – Contemporary Issues

Above and beyond the base level design parameters of the chair: structure, ergonomics and function, we will aim to design towards this list of design parameters which summarizes both the specific requirements of the brief (cardboard, 20-something consumers, sold online) and the broader mandate of being relevant to this specific moment in history.

Your solution should aim to be:

• utilizes sustainable materials (recycled, non-toxic, low-embedded energy, etc..)
• uses materials efficiently

• reproducible, utilizing inexpensive materials (and using them efficiently)
• can be fabricated using automated/digital processes (or is otherwise not labor intensive)

• designed to be sold online (Etsy, Amazon, Ebay) and shipped inexpensively (lightweight/flat)
• easily assemblable by the consumer
• considering packaging and ‘unboxing’ as a designed experience

• should have a small footprint, or collapse or be otherwise suitable to living in small spaces

• addresses a very new and of-the-moment demand we put on our seating today rendering previous seating options somehow unsuitable for our current age (ergonomic/wellness, digital lifestyle, mobility, etc..)

• the chair should be able to be used for at least two of the following functions – working, reading, dining, lounging, perching, socializing, consuming media, life management

• your peers should want to own one of these chairs upon seeing your presentation