UC Chair Quarter - DONE!.

Every ID student, that has graduated or is currently at UC knows about the Chair quarter. The end of your 4th year is marked by the infamous chair studio. It’s one of the few projects at UC that hasn’t changed in many years and one that many people look forward to. There have been alot of great products that have come from this studio. You can check out past projects at Michael Rollers blog, who has documented the past few years.

Well it’s finally my time to tackle the chair quarter and I shall be posting my progress on here. Both to serve as insight into how the chair quarter at UC is set up and to get feedback from those on the forum.

Step 1. The project started a few weeks ago and our first task was to bring in a piece of design that we found inspiring and extract our emotions from it. I did an illustration from Kimberly Wu.

However, my professors brought up that I did not have enough emotional connection with my piece. So revisited my piece and settled upon my prosthetic and redid the the exercise. I feel like it actually gives me much stronger sense of the direction I want to take my design in. So I was glad to redo the exercise.

Step 2. We were then given the task of creating a “culture.” A collection of items that we hoped to embody our chair and further enhance our emotional connection to our design. So I gathered object from around my home and studio that I though embodied the attributes I wanted in my chair. If you’re interested you can view other students cultures collections here.

Step 2.1 We were also given the assignment to present a few chair concepts using these items as loose inspiration. Here are a few of my attempts.

Step 3. From those initial sketches we chose a few directions we felt comfortable with and did a bit more exploration. Here are a few more takes, and a few crazier concepts in an attempt to break way from my set aesthetic.

Step 4. Next step is to take a few of the concepts we feel are most promising, refine them and also make at least 3 small scale models of those concepts.

@ sain–I like the development so far and am excited to see your future progress. Will you be developing a full-scale model of your final design? From my experience, I feel that that is essential for any furniture project.


There will be a full scale model at the end of this project. Potentially more than 1 if the design allows for it. There is about 2-3 more weeks of design refinement left then we have 5 weeks to build the final model.

Mini mock ups, full size mock up for ergonomic studies, and finalized CAD are on the to-do list.

Awesome, sounds like a really fun project!

Sain, very nice. I like how your “Culture” is presented in such a nice way, similar to the everyday cary blog.

I feel like you are going down the right path with concepts like the “bent” C channel. One thing that might be interesting to push is materials. Your prosthetic uses composites I’m sure for ver specific reasons. Is there an opportunity to play with this type of moldable material?

When I look at the original object I get Composite + Metal + Leather. The metal looks very rigid, the composite ver organic, and the leather gives it a sense of craftedness. Perhaps there is a way to use all three of these materials in the same way but for completely different functions.

Thanks Yo, I was tinkering with the idea of materials a bit and I have a few idea for how to use them a bit more creativity. I’m working on prototyping out these ideas and checking the plausibility of some of it. More to come later.

I took a few of my favorite directions and refined them a bit more and thought about they might be constructed a bit more.
Concept 1. Refinement on the C-channel concept. Played the legs and with seat mount connections. Also converted the proportions into a lounge with ottoman option.

Concept 1.2 Same as concept 1. Different leg connection. Tubing straight into to the metal c-channel with grommet.

Concept 2. Refined an earlier concept. Metal seat pan, wooden support structure and legs. Since thetop surface is very easy to lasercut/screenprint, this option gives the me opportunity to do many different finishes and textures.

Concept 3 All metal construction. Would probabbly have each panel water jet cut, simple breaks. Welded, sand them and finish. Toughest of the 3 to construct. One of the underclassman showed me a cool chair from ICFF that had a piece of EVA sandwiched between pieces of thin laser cut plywood. Seems like a cool way to add a bit of cushioning to something that is traditionally very rigid.

Concept 3.2[/b] Exploration of different legs.

Still experimenting with other forms for the legs. So there is a lot more refinement left in this concept.

Next Steps: Maquette models. Should have 3 little models done in the next few days.

Also. I did a time lapse of one of my renders. Quick 20 minute render compressed down to a 2 minute clip.


Like the direction of the project, really dig the culture picture, great alternative to the classic mood boards and conveys form and material well.

I think your ready to move into ergo mockups and 1/4 to full scale cardboard appearance models. You have conveyed some interesting uses of material and intersections but I think you will learn a lot by going full scale as soon as possible. Does not have to be pretty, but start getting “physical”. Then you can jump back into the sketch world to refine things.

As far as the concept, I am most drawn to “C”.

The c-channel is interesting but I think will be very uncomfortable + bending a c channel may prove challenging (your asking one side to bend further than the other and still keep equal relation with one another so you can slot things in). That being said I have seen similar joining techniques done with two planar bent pieces or you could injection mold the part.

I am really drawn to concept 2. It has a nice juxtaposition of both organic and planar form and I think a lot can be found in the surfacing of the under body. Currently though I am not digging the intersection between the seat and under body, feels like two different chairs.

Anyways, just my two cents, get physical!

I doubt that c channel would be bent, but the side surface could be cut, then the top and bottom surface could be bent into place and welded.

I agree, the C channel would collapse if you tried to bend it like that. The EVA sounds like a good solution, have you felt it? Would have been interesting if you explored the concept behind the prosthetic, not just the materials. Like for example have your design be an actual prosthetic for broken chairs, which helps repair them and even increase their functionality? I like concept 2, how are you planning on doing the white part on the bottom? What if one of the legs was made of another material, kind of remniscent of an actual prosthetic?

I agree the C-channel would probabbly collapse when bent in that direction. Ideally it would make constructing that concept easier if possible, so I can hope.

I’ll show my final concept to a metal fabricator and see what they recommend. But as Yo mentioned I probably would have the sides waterjut cut, then weld the top and bottom pieces. Which I don’t think would be terribly difficult to do. Concept 3 would be a much more ambitious welding endeavor.

I am really drawn to concept 2. It has a nice juxtaposition of both organic and planar form and I think a lot can be found in the surfacing of the under body. Currently though I am not digging the intersection between the seat and under body, feels like two different chairs.

Thanks I really like all the concepts. But concept 2 gives me a lot of freedom to play with materials, finishes and textures. Which is exciting. Also I feel like it’s dangerous as it could lead to a very bland chair if things aren’t executed well. I definitively agree that the forms could be further refined a tad bit.

I like concept 2, how are you planning on doing the white part on the bottom?

I was thinking it would be CNC’ed out of wood then painted. Cast aluminum or concrete would be cool too. Could even be fiberglass and expanding foam. Materials are still up in the air.

Cheeky. Absolutely love this idea.

For concept 2 definitely don’t do anything CNC’d for the carriage especially wood. Think about honesty of material, painted wood would be fine for prototyping but for production that part screams casting or composite material. Don’t force materials to do things they don’t want to do, rather find appropriate materials and allow them to add to your aesthetic. Like the concept and excited to see what path you go down.

Don’t force materials to do things they don’t want to do

Oh I dunno… . force can be a wonderful thing; e.g. cold molding wood veneers. The “C” channel being a prime candidate, with post machine work for the groove.

I have made a tad bit of progress since my last post. We were asked to make a few Maquette models for class. So I roughly threw together a few mini models. We were suppose to consider how they would be created in real life and mimic that construction style in our maquette models.

My concepts have fairly straight forward construction so it wasn’t terribly difficult to mimic. But I did run into a few snags and was able to re-evaluate a few design choices. So here are my attempts, even though they aren’t the prettiest things I did learn a bit about the potential stability of Cocnept 3.

After studio critique and feedback I decided to push ahead with Concept 2. The other concepts each had their pitfalls. Plus I can CAD and render them, if I really want to explore them further As the would still effectively show my design intent. But onward with making a functioning model of Concept 2.

I really liked RicardoE’s suggestion of using a different material for one of the legs. Right now it’s a bit literal, which is ok. But I’m going to play with different variations on this theme. Maybe include a variety of of different legs so swap it out depending on the environment the chair is in. Again still working on this.
Next Steps: Refined Maquette Model and Rendering. Full Scale mock up, to assess ergonomics. (Should be easy for me since it’s basically a dining chair)

Love the idea of one leg being a different materials.

The mockups always help. the faster you get into 3D (real 3D) the faster your design evolves!

Looking great Sain!

Love the idea of one leg being a different materials.

Ditto… reminds me of my mom’s love of painting one wall of a room a different color. Always a visual surprise.

Allowing for the legs to be installed by the end-user would allow them to alternate the position of the odd leg as well … love it.

Really solid work so far, I really like all your concepts. One thought on the option you’ve chosen to develop- if you waterjet cut the seat pan, the closed fiberglass shell underneath is going to act as an epic crap collector (crumbs, lint, etc.). But you could certainly just cut the upper part of the seat, which would be less likely to snag clothing as well.

Very true, If I choose to use that option I could maybe do a nice inlay (wood or metal).

Yeah, definitely. Wouldn’t even need to be an inlay as such, a layer of veneer under the metal would have the same effect visually, and be super easy in production.

Really fun to look at your process and the detail you have brought to your sketches that are not just gestural, but getting down to some manufacturing and assembly details.

I like the idea of differentiating one leg, but also thought it would be nice if it wasn’t just a material change, but perhaps a different joint as well ( something to think about).

I think Scott raises some good points on the laser cut pattern, I would push it further and suggest you look at patterns that can dictate the chair back flex. Maybe the fiberglass backer terminates in the lower lumbar region to allow for a more live
/flexible back? Even if you don’t end up going through with it in your final, some exploration to understand what effects this has will surely add a deeper understanding to your outcome and process.

Good work, thanks for sharing!