This morning as I was researching the topic of flat pack furniture, I stumbled across this beautifully sophisticated chair by Benjamin Hubert.
Benjamin Hubert happens to be the designer I'm researching for my Design and Technology project. It only seemed right to sink a little deeper into the "100% Design Awards" winning Pod Chair.
The Pod chair is designed by Benjamin Hubert's company "Layer" for the Dutch furniture giants, De Vorm. The aim was to create a private and comfortable but ecologically sustainable alternative to large upholstered furniture.
I always love seeing the design process. De Vorm embrace the process by publishing extracts for everyone to see. The project reportedly took 2 years from initial sketches and prototypes all the way through to manufacture. Seeing such high-quality foam board prototypes produced shows the extreme attention to detail and dedication to the search for the perfect form.
The main body of the chair is manufactured from compression moulded recycled PET (Polyethene terephthalate) felt. If this material doesn't sound familiar to you, its most commonly used in the manufacture of plastic drinking bottles. PET felt was used for its soft touch, strength and great acoustic dampening qualities. After compression moulding, the excess material is removed from the body using precise automated waterjet cutting.
The structural part of the chair comprises of 4 turned legs supporting an elegantly steam bent rail, all manufactured from rich ash. Meeting all 4 cylindrical legs to the steam bend rail is in itself very impressive.
Although the design looks quite bulky for transport, each Pod shell is stackable and the legs are assembled "flat-pack" style. Once again, a design consideration is shown to minimising the carbon footprint.
"Material and design turn the Pod chair into an eye-catcher. It shields users from their environment, allowing them to work in a relaxed and concentrated manner.”
The end result of all this meticulous design work is a very tastefully refined, Scandinavian-styled privacy Pod. From a commercial standpoint, the chair is marketed towards public spaces such as hotels and libraries. But it's also quite suited to a personal study or reading room.
Designing non-intrusive objects for isolation in a public space is quite dificult. I believe the Pod, even for its size, is a very soothing, aesthetic solution. It lends itself to being inclusive when placed around a table and transforms into a meditation retreat when left isolated.
The Pod deserves the title of great design for the innovative way it uses the properties of recycled materials, precise manufacturing techniques and its overall cultivated form. Creating a "room within a room" experience for the user seems to be perfectly executed with the Pod chair.
The Pod chair is definitely going to be considered in the furnishing of my dream house. But for the time being, I'll be searching for it in public spaces around Glasgow to take it for a test drive!