Red Herring

Designs on Studying the Baltic Experience

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    Digitization Nation

    By Bronwyn Charlton
    Feb 24, '12 4:50 AM EST

    As part of our semester abroad we get the opportunity to design and build a chair out of bent plywood with the help of our instructor, Julie Scheu. Bent plywood is a beautiful method for furniture construction -- the simple elegance of the forms that are possible with bent plywood as well as the consideration/limitation of complex curves means that the creation of bent plywood furniture requires equal parts of art and technique. 

    We've divided into four groups and each taken on a chair to "digitize" (import the geometry of into Rhino), model out of foam and then foam core from which to develop our own models. To see more about this process read our colleague's Jenn Wong and Alex Morely's fantastic post about the process here:

    My partner, Seth Bartlett and I chose this chair to study:

    Petteri Chair by Olavi Hanninen


    We (Seth and I) feel like we have been lucky to model an incredibly elegant chair. Fabricated with a single piece of laminated wood (6 layers of lamination as opposed to the standard odd-numbered plywood model -- this is because the chair designer wanted the same color of wood on the underside and the topside) it has thin (approx. 1/2in diameter) metal legs attached with simple wooden discs underneath. 

    and here is our resulting shell:

    Testing the model and identifying pressure points, strengths and weaknesses in comfort, support, and aesthetics. 

    As a group, the positive critiques of the chair were that it was supremely elegant, the thin, high back offered a good degree of support but also allowed for a lot of upper body movement and that the chair seat had nice bottom support. Negative critiques were that the chair seat could be a bit wider and that the front edge of the chair cut in to the back of the thighs a bit too much. We realized how crucial a slight curve in the back support was for spinal comfort, and that a slight angle to the back of the chair (or a degree of flexibility in leaning back) were essential. 

    Now onto fabricating our own models! 




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About this Blog

We are two MArch students from Washington University St Louis who are traveling for a semester abroad to Helsinki, the arctic circle, and Baltic region. Helsinki is currently the 2012 design capital and we are getting to participate in extensive design related seminars and events that we wish to blog about. We are interested in using this blog to share/explore ideas and experiences about design, art, architecture and culture as we experience it.

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  • bjd80
  • Bronwyn Charlton

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