Olympia, WA
The Evergreen State College
Red Oak

This chair was an independent undergraduate study in furniture design exploring the bent lamination technique and its requisite design and manufacturing considerations. Initial studies included chair ergonomics, a survey of existing bent wood chair designs, and jig construction. Intended to be a flexible form, basic materials tests were performed and rough design sketches were refined as CAD models that were eventually used to produce jigs (the molds to create the curved shapes).

After preliminary design work, the viability of the product was tested through materials research that included:

  • Testing the strength and bending radius as a correlation of wood species, strip quantity and thickness;
  • Jig designs to bend the pieces and determine how to provide enough clamping pressure to produce a void-less form;
  • Resilience testing the “spring back” of the laminated strips as they lost shape after being removed from jigs;
  • Testing the flexibility of the individual and assembled pieces to ensure their performance under various loads;
  • Researching metal fasteners for assembly;
  • Evaluating finishes for their durability and ability to withstand friction as the form flexes under weight.

Taking into account the materials data, the final chair form was revised and production began. In this process, custom manufacturing techniques were developed to mill and sand the component strips to precisely-controlled thicknesses for accuracy; and set of refined jigs were produced to provide maximum uniform clamping pressure across the curved forms.