(Quasi) Voronoi Chair

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.

— Mies van der Rohe

This was the second Rapid Prototyping project at SFSU. I worked with Ryan Heywood on this one. The brief was to design a nature-inspired dining chair, respecting human factors and ergonomics, and to use CNC machining. We wanted to create something that would be almost impossible to build by hand.

The machine should enable us to produce something mass-manufacturable, with an intriguing appearance. It shouldn’t simply cut out a shape that could also be cut out by hand. We wanted to use the benefits of CNC without compromising on craftsmanship.

I want to show off the final chair first, you’ll find the ideation and manufacturing process further below.

Delivery

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Ideation

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In initial ideation, we looked at natural patterns and decided to incorporate their mathematics into our chair. We wanted to combine a seemingly random pattern with an almost architectural chair frame. Our first model, made from paper and foam board, looks almost identical to our final design. We imagined a black stain finish for the chair, contrasting with the natural pattern and fitting with a modern society where people are afraid of colour.

Manufacture

We wanted to do something more than merely assembling a chair that a machine cut out for us. This is where bent ply came in. Having the seat and backrest in one would not only be of structural benefit, but also be more aesthetic and definitely more “natural”. Staining added another step that increased the chair’s value and the project’s complexity. We learnt a lot and were reminded that planning is everything, and that sanding takes as long as construction. Of the 100 hours invested into the chair, CNC machining the parts took only 3.

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Special thanks go out to my friend Sirijit, who modelled for the chair.