I was excited, yet apprehensive to start this field project. I have never done product design before and I wasn’t sure if it was something I would enjoy. In our first session we were given a brief introduction to what we would be doing over the next five weeks and then given a partner who we would be working with. Before starting on our chairs, we were introduced to multiple techniques which we would use to design the chairs from different angles, as well as discussing Ergonomics.
The brief was to create a ‘bespoke chair/stool or seat’, responding to a specific project brief based on the results from a staff/client interview. We will be provided with a 16 square foot, 4’x4’x12mm, or 1200x1200x12mm sheet of birch to create the chair, as well as using our own secondary material.
Before designing each chair, each group was allocated a lecturer, whose personality we would use to base the chair design around. Myself and my partner were allocated the ceramics lecturer, Matt Thompson. We were also given a sheet of interview questions to ask the client as well as adding our own questions. The main points we discovered from the interview was, that he enjoys cycling ( preferably mountain biking) and outdoor adventure, his favourite artist is David Hockney, his children (aged 6 and 4) are very important to him and his favourite colour is blue. For inspiration we each had to create a mood board showing the lecturer’s interests and some potential chair ideas.
As well as learning new skills to incorporate within our designs we were also given example of chairs, created by previous students. It was interesting to see how they used the materials and they inspired me to experiment with what types of materials would work successfully with our chair.
We started to gather some potential ideas for the chair, taking our interviewee’s answers as inspiration. His interest in cycling and outdoor adventure appeared to be two important aspects of his life. We came up with an idea to use second-hand bike materials, such as the bike tyres, handle bars or the material from the inner tubes. The first idea I came up with was a chair that would rock as you sit on it, the panels going across the chair would be made from tyre parts, as they are made of a strong material. Another factor that highlighted in the interview results was his unconditional love for his children. We wanted to make sure this was incorporated within the chair design. As his children were aged 4 and 6 we wanted to make sure that there was enough room for them to sit with him on the chair, and for them to be able to use it too.
The second idea was designed by my partner. The chair would be designed so that his bike’s front tyre could slot into the back of the chair. The chair would have a larger piece at the back with a slit for the tyre, a material hammock type seat and then two other pieces so that it opened like a deck chair. However, we didn’t think that this idea was experimental enough and it didn’t incorporate the needs of his children either, so we continued to develop our ideas.
I liked the idea of having a round, cocoon shaped chair, where our client would be able to sit back on it and could be joined by his children, making the chair socially inclusive. The chair would be designed with five wooden panels and would rest on a round base. This was our preferred option and we decided to develop this idea.
As well as having it resting on the base, we came up with the idea of using similar mechanics to a bike to make the chair move in all directions. We would also use bike inner tubing as our secondary material for extra support. For the surprise element we also discussed possibly having a bike light, to use as a reading light at the top of the chair.
After discussing with the lecturer on the plan for this chair, we realised that we didn’t have enough material to make it possible, so we had to think of other ways to reduce the amount of materials used. We developed our idea so that the chair would be designed from half wood and half canvas material. Using the same shape and concept from the original cocoon idea, we wanted to create half the chair in the same way, however covering the top half of the chair using the canvas material. The material would then hang from a piece of wood that would be designed as the spine of the chair, using fabric ties.
For the inside of the chair, we discussed using foam, covered with recycled fabric from charity shops. We discussed using blue fabric as he said that blue was his favourite colour. This idea was then developed so that we would decorate the inside with cushions, again using recycled fabric for the cushion covers.
My peer started to design the model of our chair using a 3D software. Here we were able to see how our chair would sit and decide on any changes that needed to happen so that it would be stable. The first thing we noticed is that we needed the chair to be balanced. We came up with the idea of adding a stop in the wood so that it wouldn’t roll over. However, the chair plan still wasn’t completely stable, so we decided to experiment with using two wooden panels on the back of our chair. As I have never had experience of product design I was very apprehensive about the design of the chair.
We realised that our idea might be too ambitious for the time we had to create the chair, so we decided to change the idea completely so that the concept was slightly simpler. Our new idea used less material which made it simpler to design and we found it easier to incorporate our recycled materials. My peer came up with the idea of potentially using stabilizers on the chair, this way you would be able to move the chair around. Another idea we considered was to use bubble wrap as our secondary material, as padding on the top of our chair. Again I thought it would be interesting to experiment with making the material removable by using fabric ties.