Industrial Design Students Recreate The Classics

Industrial Design students in the Furniture Design elective course recently reached a major milestone in their semester: the completion of the Chair Project.

Students begin the project by making a detailed study of an iconic chair and its designer.  The manufacturing techniques and materials of the chair are analyzed alongside the socio-economic realities of the time the design was originally produced in. The overall design philosophy of the creator is also taken into account. Students then make a construction study and measured drawing of their chosen chair followed by a 1/5 scale model of the chair using, whenever possible, the actual materials of the full-size piece. A wide array of  modelmaking techniques can be used including metal bending, yellow foam form making, bent ply and wood lamination.

Junior BsID student Nick Galie talks about his project: “The chair I chose was the Marshmallow Sofa designed by George Nelson in 1956. I used yellow foam, brass tubing, and styrene to construct the main parts of the chair. After a week of cutting, sanding, and painting I was able to carefully construct the chair. It felt great when piecing all the parts together and the chair started to take shape. After the main construction of the chair was complete, I added a little detail which was the heads of steel screws for the feet, this was the nice finishing detail that really made me appreciate model making.

Junior BsID student Sydney Feldner reflects on her work: “I’ve always been a huge fan of Eileen Gray’s work as a designer and architect. Her ability to create naturally beautiful yet functional forms is something I greatly admire. My exploration of Gray’s work started during sophomore year when I completed a project on her infamous Dragon chair. When presented with an opportunity re-create another of her iconic designs, I couldn’t pass it up. I learned about the “Chair Project” in my freshman year at Jefferson and had been eagerly awaiting a chance to build my own tiny chair. When my turn finally arrived, I quickly realized the chair I had chosen was not so tiny after all. At a whopping 805 x 730 mm, the full-size Bibendum chair is a behemoth piece. Due to the proportions of the design, I initially thought my size conversions to a ⅕ model were incorrect! In creating my model, I used yellow foam to construct the 3 main cushions of the chair. Applying spray paint to the foam created a realistic fabric texture. The main challenge in creating the chair was the construction of the legs. They are made from 4mm steel metal rod which needed to be bent, sanded, and carefully attached to my model. With help from my professor and fantastic feedback from my peers, I was able to re-create a beautiful piece of work by one of my favorite designers.”

Sydney Felder’s models of the 1929 Bibendum Chair by Eileen Gray.

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