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Furniture Design

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Transcript of Furniture Design

Functions of Chairs in the 20th Century

Chairs are very important objects1. But when you look at chairs as being something more to simply sit upon, you find that the functions they fulfil, the design concepts behind their making, and the reasons they are bought, cover a vast and varied area.
Sure, a chair is designed to be something to sit upon. But it is this very simplicity of the humble chair's primary function that makes designing a desirable chair so difficult. Designing an object that can be sat upon is easy - but creating a 'good' chair ties furniture designers up in knots.

Aesthetics, Style, and Status

In our daily lives, many of us spend more time in a sitting position than in any other. And though we may fill our homes with a myriad of domestic objects, we will almost certainly spend as much money on the seating as on any other aspect. The importance of chairs is reflected in the fact that the variety of chairs is greater than for any other single household object.
Unconsciously, we use chairs for much more than a place to rest our bottoms. We chose chairs to express our individuality and status, and to demonstrate our good taste. Architects, artists and designers also use seating designs to express their higher ideals, and we find that the latest in seating design has been an important aspect of many artistic and cultural movements.

Feeling Comfortable

Such is the energy and creativity that has been applied to seating design in the 20th Century that it would be easy to acknowledge only the new, the exciting, and the adventurous, while ignoring the chairs that most of us fill our homes with. In addition to the active aspirations we have for ourselves, our lifestyles, and consequently the things with which we surround ourselves, we are also looking for comfort. Just as in a physical sense we will see that comfort consists of an absence of pressure and muscular activity so, psychologically, comfort may be induced by an absence of anything new or challenging.

Cost and Value

Because there is such a huge variety of chairs available it is difficult to recognise a particular model and assign a value to it. Neither does the cost of chairs depend on the specification, as with, for example, television sets. The value of chairs rests on more elusive attributes - for example authenticity, design, quality or exclusivity. How the chair is marketed and, in particular, where the chair is bought has a big impact on its perceived value.


Easy for Instalation and importance for Packaging and Distribution

Design & Ergonomic
Comparison Between
Standard Seating Chair
Easy Chair
Comparison Between
Steam Bending Wood Techniques and Plywood Laminate Bending Techniques
Evolution of Chair and Aestethic Value
From Solid wood to Free Forms in Laminated Plywood
Types and Possibilities
Bentwood Laminated Molded Chair
From Model to Mold, a Bent Plywood Chair

My BFA thesis explores the ways digital fabrication technologies can aid the craftsmen's hand. This bent plywood rocking chair was initially sketched out in Rhino3D, from that I was able to fabricate a press-mold that successul forms the wood into compound curves.

1. I worked out the general form with sketching and then modeled it Rhino3D. From that I made the parts for the male/female press-mold with a 1/2" allowance between the sections for material.

2. Glued up blocks of MDF to mill. Before milling the blocks we cut pockets out of a sheet of foam to hold the blocks in the correct place on the bed during milling. Milled out all the main parts plus the triangles which support the sides and back of the female portion of the mold, as well as the sides of the middle, wedge shaped keystone box.

3. The layup is 2 layers of 1/4" construction grade plywood, and then a top and bottom layer of paperback veneer which I apply after the plywood comes out of the press mold. Ideally the layup would be all veneer, but I don't have thousands of dollars in disposable income to spend on projects so I use plywood.

In order to get the bend in both directions I had to piece together the layup such that I had the grain going in different ways. I stitched together pieces with waxed thread (first tried dental floss) such that the seems would not directly overlap and create a weak point.

I soak the wood for about 4 to 5 hours before I lay it up in the mold and clamp it down without any glue. I let that sit up over night (or a couple nights) and then unclamp and wait for the wood to dry out enough to glue. I have been told it would help to put some paper towel or cheese cloth in-between the layers of plywood to aid the drying out. I use a urea formaldehyde based glue that comes in a powder that you mix with water. This is important for two reasons, first because it is a water based glue it will suck the remaining moisture out of the wood which I had to soak so drastically in order to achieve compound curves. Second, the bi-product of the chemical reaction that occurs when this glue cures is ammonia, which softens the lignins in the wood, making them more malleable.

Once the plywood is dry enough for gluing I coat each joining surface with a thickened coat of the surupy adhesive, put them back together, and clamp it up in the mold. I put a layer of dropcloth (polypropylene) between the MDF and plywood on both sides to avoid gluing the mold shut, I also wax the hell out of the MDF.

4. I get the form out of the mold and sketch the curves I want to make on one half of the chair, I cut those lines (jigsaw, dremel with wood cut-off wheel) and then use a piece of paper to mirror the lines to the other side. It gets a rough sanding then I apply the paperback veneer, which is not ideal and you can see where it wanted to fold in on itself and I had to cut it with a razor to make it lie flat on the surface.

With strips of course emery cloth I hit the edge shoeshine-style to round it over a little bit, and then oiled it down.

5. The steel base also has digital origins. I first molded the curves, then projected them flat to the c-plane and printed them out on a 3' plotter. From there it was a matter of bending the 1/2" hot rolled steel to match the working drawings, and then MIG welding it together. The rocker is wedged (the front is wider than the back) I think it makes it stronger... The two pieces that make the rocker were rolled. The metal got sanded down with course, medium, fine emery cloth, 0000 steel wool and then sealed with a rustoleum clear enamel (Not many metal pics because I wanted to keep this focused on wood)

6. To get the rubber shock mounts I made mounds in oil clay on the frame and pressed the chair into them, then made a mold of those parts and cast an 80A durometer into that mold, suspending carriage bolts above the mold such that they would be aligned with holes in the frame. The rubber mounts get laminated to the plywood shell, and then secured to the metal frame with nuts.

Concept Design, Form and Joinery
Solid Wood
Sample 3
Sample 4
Sample 5
Fritz Hansen
Series 7 Chair Production
Sample 1
Sample 2
Thonet Chair no.14
It consists of six pieces of wood - two circles, two sticks and a couple of arches - held together by 10 screws and two nuts. Together they make the wooden chair known as
Thonet Model No.14, which although no one has ever actually done the math, is thought to have seated more people than any other chair in history.
The No.14 was the result of years of technical experiments by its inventor, the 19th-century German-born cabinetmaker Michael Thonet. His ambition was characteristically bold. Thonet wanted to produce the first mass-manufactured chair, which would be sold at an affordable price (three florins, slightly less than a bottle of wine). Many of his rivals had tried to make similar chairs, but failed and, at first, Thonet seemed doomed to failure too. When his German workshop was seized by creditors in 1842, he moved his family to Austria and opened a workshop in Vienna, determined to try again.

What makes the No.14, which is to celebrate its 150th birthday next year, so special? The answers tell us as much about our attitudes to design, and how they've changed over the last century and a half, as the chair itself.
First and foremost, the No.14 fulfills its designated function, as every well-designed object must do. Second, it looks and feels great. "It's one of the most beautiful chairs there is," said the German furniture designer Konstantin Grcic. "And it has exactly the right weight. When you pick it up, it feels perfect. That's an important aspect of chair design that's often overlooked."
Third, it was startlingly innovative. Thonet perfected a process of bending wood into strong, smooth curves that had eluded his rivals. By making the chair from the fewest parts possible and standardizing their shapes to help unskilled workers assemble them and pack them neatly in shipping crates, he devised a blueprint for efficient mass-production.
Alvar Aalto Armchair 41
Model No. 41 lounge chair, 1931–32
Alvar Aalto (Finnish, 1898–1976)
Laminated birch; 36 x 24 in. (61 x 91.4 cm)

This chair, designed for Aalto's Paimio Sanatorium of 1929–32, demonstrates the radical possibilities of bentwood in its graceful, scrolling form, devoid of right angles and sharp geometry. In designing this chair for use in the sanatorium, Aalto sought to create a form that would be both mentally and physically soothing to patients, and aid in their recuperation. Like his European peers, the Finnish Aalto was deeply interested in exploring new manufacturing techniques and uses of materials in his pursuit of modern furniture design, favoring light, dematerialized forms with dramatic cantilevers. However, whereas many of his colleagues explored the formal potential of tubular steel, Aalto preferred the warmth and tactility of wood. In this design, he experimented with plywood and molded birch from his native Finland. The seat and back are fashioned from the same piece of molded wood, which terminates in volutes at either end, functioning as both structure and decorative element.
Bending - Laminating Process
Carpenter Workshop

Prepared by: S.Prvanov PhD ID Lecturer HCMC Vietnam 2014
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