Special chair made for a special friend.
ARI is a custom-designed chair created according to a client's physical attributes and aesthetic preferences. The client in this case was my partner paired up for the project. The final full-scale design were to fit on a single 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" plywood and only rely on wood joinery techniques, as no adhesives and fasteners were to be used.
Meet my client
My client Arianne expressed that many of the pre-existing chairs were unsuitable for her small stature (she is 4' 10"!) . And because of this reason, she had developed a habit of putting her legs up on the seat; however, the seat would often be short of space.
Upon client interview, I was prompted to design a chair that accommodated her habitual posture all the while encouraging other of her usual “sitting” activities - such as relaxing - as to differentiate my design from pre-existing chairs, and therefore to truly establish the chair as her "own."
Defining the needs
The foremost design objective was to devise an ergonomically-correct design; collecting the anthropometric data of the client was key. This information guided me in finding the right physical dimensions that accommodated her body and postures and thus allowed me to build the basic framework of the chair.
Setting the mood right
The next important design objective was to integrate her wants in aesthetics. The client was asked to collect a series of photos of chairs that she liked. Arianne’s favorite style were geared towards simplicity, the use of geometry, and cleanliness. These stylistic ideas were kept in mind in future aspirations.
With Arianne's needs and wants in mind, many concepts were explored. The challenge was to seamlessly incorporate the ergonomic knowledge from research with the chair's overall form. Amongst all, this particular design was chosen to become the basis for the initial prototype, as it was deemed to balance both the client's bodily needs and aesthetic wants the most elegantly. The form offered plenty of room to fit Arianne's body well, but its composition was simple and yet interesting enough because of the combination of different geometric shapes at opposing angles.
... and problems
After the first full-scale prototype was built, a formative usability testing was conducted to determine which areas of the design needed more improvements.
Stepping closer to maximum client happiness.
The measurement error made in the initial prototype was accommodated by decreasing the overall height and bringing back the reclining angle of the back rest. The seat received a "cutout" as the initial prototype's material near the knees would rub into her legs and cause her to sit with tension. To further implement stability for the final design, a support piece was added in between the two legs and the middle piece to lock the pieces in place; The middle piece was laminated to provide strength at the center of gravity. Whereas Arianne's experience with the initial prototype was seemingly "awkward," she could now rest her feet firmly on the ground, relax comfortably, and change her postures with much more ease.
Bit more tweaks here and there.
As I was going into building the final product, every piece and joinery was crafted with care since one of the biggest aesthetics emphasis was on cleanliness. This approach was not only an attempt to satisfy my client's personal wants, but also an important process to infuse beauty into the design's simplicity.
A different play of angles were applied on the final design in order to keep the form more interesting. Curvatures were created at the legs to accompany the addition of rounder edges; the support piece and the backrest received "cutouts" as well in order to keep unity. With these editions, what used to be the planar in the initial prototype transformed into something more visually dynamic and interesting.
One-of-a-kind design? Check.
The Bespoke Seating Device Project
Spring 2016 | Georgia Institute of Technology