When choosing which class to take for field option 2, and what could be further away from a print loving, textiles student than designing and making a functioning chair?!
Initially I found it really difficult to start the design process, it was a lot to take on and the person I was to design for had very particular interests, so using the questionnaire that was filled out I highlighted which I though could be best used in design of the chair. I decided to go with a cycling theme as I felt that has the broadest range for design ideas. So the next step was to create a collection of rough designs including primary and secondary materials, as long as the wood supplied was included somewhere within the chair the secondary material could be anything I wanted.
After toying with design concepts and figuring what materials would be available to me a narrowed it down to 3 ideas, 2 of these using a bike frame which would have to be welded and bent, which at first didn’t seem a problem bit when I considered all the processes I would need to go through, having no experience in the workshops, let alone finding suitable frames for my design as a very cheap cost, I decided to go with my 3 design and simplify it, meaning the material I had to find would be relatively easy and the make process wouldn’t be too far out of my league.
In the workshops I found it difficult as I had no experience and I found it was undermanaged for the amount of us in there, but regardless I made the most of the workshop time and got to work. Using the measurements of my design I cut the wood I needed on the CNC machine in the Fablab, this was great fun and really interesting to see! I came across a few minor setbacks whilst constructing the chair, such as gluing and drilling connecting wood in the wrong place but nothing that couldn’t be corrected. After completely constructing the base I faced the challenge of securing the innertubes as the seat, which was tricky as it needed to hold weight and also follow the minimalist theme, not having nails and glue showing!
In conclusion I am very pleased with the outcome, I lost time at the start of the project but managed to catch up, any problems I faced through the design and construction of the chair were overcome without a great deal of help and I am very proud of myself. The only time I lost hope was right at the very end, after making the finishing touches to my chair before taking it to be displayed, I dropped a tin of black paint on it! Covering the one side and potentially ruining my hard work, but with the help of my fellow students I managed to dry and sand the unwanted paint off, leaving it almost unnoticeable! That aside, i thoroughly enjoyed the project and gained many new skills and experiences!
Well… the final week was a very stressful one! Not just for me, everyone has been trying hard to get their chairs assembled in time and perfect, its been really busy and we’ve all been chipping in to help each other when possible. by the end of last week i pretty much had the frame assembled, with just a few screws left to fully secure, then i was left with just the inner tubes to attach.
I had a variety of inner tubes to use, different widths and length, so i stretched the tubes over the frame to see how long i needed each strap to be, cut them all out and started to attach them. THIS WAS NOT FUN. i used about 8 nails per strap to secure, and every time i added another strap, the next on became more difficult to get too. Once i had secured all 23 straps i had to conceal the nails and add the finishing touches… this is where it went horribly wrong!
Using left over inner tubes i was able to neatly conceal all the nails used by gluing a cut strip over the inside of the frame, and used very thing tubes and glued them down he corners of the outside of the seat to avoid any raw edges and finally, painted the inside edge of the seat black. I then cleaned and dusted my finished product ready for exhibition! all i needed to do what put the materials i’d used away and i was finished! but not before I DROPPED A WHOLE TIN OF BLACK PAINT ONTO MY FINISHED CHAIR!!!! this was by far one of the worst things that has ever happened to me, and without the help of my classmates i wouldn’t have been able to display my chair on time, so thank you to all the people who helped me dry the paint and sand every last bit off, i am very grateful!
In conclusion of the last 5 weeks, i have learned many new skills and really got to work out of my comfort zone, i successfully built a comfortable, functioning chair/stool which is something i’d never thought i’d do! here are some pictures of the final product 🙂
this week has been a pretty hectic one, after showing my final designs to Richard, and tweaking so that the seat design was practical and functional (which proved to be stressful) i got help from the FabLab to digitally draw the parts needed for my chair to be cut out on the CNC machine, it was simple to do, although that is only because i had help! getting the measurements perfect was really important for successful construction.
Using the CNC machine was pretty impressive, its amazing what you can do digitally! i didnt even know these machines excited untill this week so i am pretty pleased to have the opportunity to use one for my work, though if asked o do it again i would probably still be in the dark about the whole process!
This week i also collected a pile of inner tubes, something initially i was worried about as i was definitely not in the position to spend money on each tubes as i needed quite a few! i collected the odd few off friends but managed to get the majority of them from local bike shops, they kindly donated old and unwanted inner tubes to my project, so a big thank you to SunSet Bikes and Cyclopaedia!
with the frame of my seat cut and ready to assemble i got to the woodwork studio to learn some more. i used wood glue and a drill to start putting the frame together, using the glue and clamps to hold the frame in place while i measured, located and drilled holes ready for screws to secure the frame. next week i will be cutting and securing the inner tubes (fingers crossed they hold the weight of a person!)
I got my persona questionnaire filled out this week, a little later than expected but now that i have it i can start to work on some ideas! Without trying to sound awful, i was disappointed when i got my persona, its somebody i have been tutored by in the past and i found it difficult to bond with him, not that i think he’s unpleasant in any way, just didn’t manage to build any rapport. So this left me slightly negative as i was hoping to design my chair around a theme that i also was interested in, and at this time i was just feeling really blank as far as design was concerned. there is not enough time to be negative though, so to help me narrow down ideas i highlighted the most interesting and flexible answers from the questionnaire, I was left with his favourite colour, green-grey, Volkswagen, bikes/cycling and indian food… my mind was doing over time, mentally designing green-grey bikes made out of Volkswagen parts covered in indian food, this would just not work.
After a chat with Richard he advised me to keep my design simple and minimalist as the persona was very much a minimalist person, which left me even more stuck for ideas! After a long battle with myself over the weekend i decided to go for a chair themed around cycling, I cycle regularly myself and it seemed to crop up regularly on the questionnaire. I got to researching chairs made out of bike parts and once i’d done some research on sites like pinterest the ideas started flowing.
while drawing up some ideas, i toyed with using frames, wheels, chains, cranks and any other bike part you can think of, but this still wasn’t simplistic and certainly wasn’t within my reach as far as having the skills to manipulate these parts. for example, many of my ideas used a frame and forks as the primary material, which looked fantastic on paper, but when i thought about the construction i would need to weld, bend, cut, all the things i didn’t know how to do, and to learn would be very time-consuming on such a tight schedule. I wanted to use as little wood as possible, but this just wasn’t working for me!
I settled for a simple stool frame, made out of wood, using inner tubes to stretch over through and over the frame to create (hopefully) a strong and comfortable seat.