UC Chair Semester

Long time reader, first time poster.

The Chair Semester is rather infamous at University of Cincinnati. It was one of the first studios I heard word of when I entered here my freshman year. It’s the first time we produce something that is an actual usable product instead of a paint-sprayed chunk of high density foam, so the bar is set pretty high to come out with something that you are happy with (especially due to the large fiscal investment usually needed to complete the project)

In the spirit sain, a frequenter of the forums who was also a UC grad, I’m going to try and document my process here in hopes of getting some feedback and crowd sourced advice!

The initial set up of the project is to take inspiration from one of top 10 movies of all time from each of the 10 genres movie for our chairs. Finding this a little more gimmicky than I would like, I used the movies as entertainment during the first 300 ideation sketches we were required to do. So any inspiration from these are more subconscious, or perhaps they will find their way in the detailing phase or in color/material choice, etc.

For our crit today we were to choose 30 of our favorite ideations and refine them with orthographics, our teacher then looked at our top 10 and provided some advice.

I was second to last to present, so by that time my professor and the class were rather restless and I felt I really didn’t get any useful feedback. Feeling a little cheated I’ll attach my boards with my sketches and some thought process behind them. They are all number in the bottom right corner - so hopefully that will help refer to them if you want to provide insight.

From these 30 we are to choose 3 to detail out and create scale models. Any advice or thoughts would be very helpful, and I’m happy to answer any questions. Thank you so much in advance!

Just a suggestion - post your work here in the thread. You will get more feedback. Many people won’t click on an unidentified link to see your work.

Welcome to the forums.

R

Thanks for the advice - posting Jpegs now

Here’s my inspiration board and goals








Here are the 20 designs I didn’t present today - anything interesting you see that you’d recommend incorporating into my next steps please let me know!




Thanks again all!

Nice I love seeing these threads. Chotos chair was also a great too. Be careful with the folded steel chairs. They tend to look quite alike after awhile. Really need to do something to make it stand out. Jacob Nitz sorta set the standard for it at UC a few years ago.
http://www.jacobnitz.com/18313/182430/work/amirite-collection

This is also another UC grad that did a bent metal chair.

Im partial to A2 and A18, but don’t really feel like any of your chairs really have a Wow factor yet. The story/movie aspect is ment to push you away from designing “just a cool chair.” Having a narrative to your design will help you craft a more meaningful product in the end. Even if the story is “low cost manfucaturing”, “dorm flat pack”, “muji-esque”, “miyazaki” “space odessy” You need something for the viewer to latch onto. Right now you just posted some chairs, with no back story to them at all. Your images and sketches need to “present” your concepts. Your sketches as is don’t really do that yet.

You have some beautiful imagery on your boards. But nothing that really feels like it ties to it. The blobly shape pushing through the rigid frame is interesting. The quilt pattern is beautiful. The facteted planes. Try and incorporate that more into your designs.

Other avenues you might want to consider. What environment do you see these chairs living in. Surely theres a perfect living room you see these sitting in. Show us that room.

How did you settle on bender metal? Did you explore anything else? I think that some variety in material explorations in the beginning could spark something interesting. Maybe lead to a unique material combo or form factor.

Did your brief have any other details? Price? Consumer? Use scenario? I’m feeling some basic foundation is missing and makes it harder to evaluate if you hit what the target is.

Will look through sketches later. Hard to see on the phone. Thanks for filling in the post. Helpful.

R

Thanks for the replies guys. I’ll have some time to do some back work this weekend and I definitely want to end up with something meaningful out of this.

The class started with a bit of a lesson in Japanese design ethos. There are 5 pillars in Japanese design and we have to incorporate at least three into our final design. These are:
SIMPLICITY (maybe I tried to hard t0 start off with this and skimped on the back story work)
COMPACTNESS (it’s supposed to fit in current shipment boxes - although many in the past seem to break this rule)
ASYMMETRY (professor warned us away from this, saying it’s very difficult to pull off)
HUMOR (or rather cleverness) (i thought of Nendo when I heard this)
and CRAFTSMANSHIP (which I hope is implied)

It’s also supposed to be a chair for 2020, although this really wasn’t stressed very hard, and I’m not really sure I see how much a chair would differ from current chairs in 5 years except in aesthetic trends unless I was going to AR or wearables (only kind of kidding) (chairables?)

My thought process behind this so far is that I see a lot of projects come out of this studio that are cool and artisanal, but they’re usually one-offs, and I was looking to produce something that could feasibly be produced outside of a 15-week studio. So that’s why I started with a lot of bent sheet metal concepts, I suppose making my mind up a little too early in the process. A lot of them are attempting to use one piece of bent sheet metal to reduce parts, I’ve seen some cool stuff done with perforated sheet metal and I kind of imagined this being flat packed and assembled by the user without the use of a bending brake, and possibly exploring upholstered cushion to add interest and warmth to a rather rigid chair.

Sain - I’ve seen these examples and something like those chairs is something I’m looking to strive for - I guess on websites like theirs they don’t show the back story so it’s hard to see a connection between cool looking final product and initial story when presented that way but I’m sure the work is done.

I imagined this being in a young modern household - maybe a little too cliche? Any recommendations on finding this environment? or where to look for for meaningful inspiration? I’m a little bit at a loss of where to go from here, this project is very self-driven which I guess is a little scary after a few semester of constraint-filled project briefs…

One idea I had that I kind of strayed away from because I thought it was too goofy was the idea of having a chair that was a blank avatar, and you would use your own clothing and items to give it your personal touch. A ‘chairicature’ if you will. It could be a home base for your favorite sweater and hats. Maybe have pocketsas well to always place your keys and wallet in while your home?


Maybe my inspiration is trying to not get lost in all this cold modern furniture? It would need some form exploration but Thoughts? Too Gimmicky?

Nitz chair is all about the connection between steel and wood. That is his “story”. I remember seeing prototypes of his, where we really played with that connection. The wood is milled so it sits flush in the pocket. How does the metal “wrap” around the legs. The bolts used to hold it together. Are they exposed or hidden. The branding that is placed directly at that intersection. All those choices there are conscious. The story is there to help you design.

I was looking to produce something that could feasibly be produced outside of a 15-week studio… I kind of imagined this being > flat packed > and assembled by the user without the use of a bending brake

If this is your hook then you really need to explore this more.

Think of smaller modular pieces too. Not just giant metal surfaces.

http://www.thefloydleg.com/story-of-the-leg/
http://instagram.com/p/nds-pIH-MP/

ASYMMETRY (professor warned us away from this, saying it’s very difficult to pull off)

Thats just Tony, being Tony. Id take that as a challenge personally.

http://www.dailytonic.com/naoshima-collection-by-ana-mir-and-emili-padros-emiliana-design-studio-es/

imagined this being in a young modern household - maybe a little too cliche? Any recommendations on finding this environment?

Pintrest is your friend.

One idea I had that I kind of strayed away from because I thought it was too goofy was the idea of having a chair that was a blank avatar, and you would use your own clothing and items to give it your personal touch. A ‘chairicature’ if you will. It could be a home base for your favorite sweater and hats. Maybe have pocketsas well to always place your keys and wallet in while your home?

This idea is clever, but kinda goes completely away from everything else you’ve mentioned. Feels like it would make a cool Kids Ikea style product though.

From what I understand you seem to be into the project but don’t want to make something that’s too similar to what’s been done as it’s a recurring project at your school.

Maybe finding an under-explored purpose or use case other than the standard designer porn chair :smiley:

Off the top of my head, a desk chair that can also be used as a stool for use with a convertible standing desk. Stackable/foldable conference chairs don’t get a lot of love and you get to design a whole system including the dolly they typically get moved around with. Rocking/nursing chairs?

“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” Paul Rand, one of the most original graphic designers ever. I think the lesson he was trying to impart is that by striving for good, he got to original. Sometimes when you just target original, you end up with the front of a Lexus (not good).

This concept explores modularity a bit more. The idea is that instead of the frame and legs supporting a seat the seat pan and legs are integrated and support each other. People kept saying it reminded them of the Dixon Anode chair, probably becuase of the similarity in seat pan folds? but I think the concept is far enough away that with some more exploration ( construction, material and silhouette-wise) it could lead to some intriguing results. Thoughts on this?


This is kind of the environment I had in mind originally (thanks pinterest) stark, refined, maybe a little more exciting than this though

With the initial 300 ideations I didn’t have a definitive direction, and for the 30 refinements i tried to choose and include a variety of concepts. Obviously this would include an entirely different target user and environment but does it warrant further development, or should I maybe save this for a side project?

This sounds interesting to me, but I’m not sure I quite understand do you mean a chair with adjustable height? or a chair with a leaning stool integrated on the back of the chair?

Thought provoking indeed yo. Are you saying I’m trying too hard to come up with an original idea? Is something a good design if it doesn’t have originality to it? Is trying to be unique the same thing as being original, or how does innovation fit into this? I feel if I was just trying to make just a ‘good chair’ I would start researching shaker style furniture and build a well-crafted seat, but (especially in school) it seems striving for something different is a goal.

Thanks for the feedback so far guys, these perspectives are all helping a lot!

It all depends how you define good. I personally wouldn’t ever want a shaker chair, so that would eliminate it from my personal definition of good. I just want to make sure your mental framework is more attuned to making something good, than something different that is wacky that you might not actually like when you are done.

Put another way, Mark Parker (CEO of Nike) once said to a group of us “I’m interested in new and better, not new and different.”

As I mentioned, this is one of the first things that popped in mind. I haven’t given it much thought. But I see a lot of people with adjustable standing desk that have a standard office chair and the office chair just awkwardly stays behind when they are standing.

Even in this Ikea commercial where everything is super stylized and thought out but that chair at 55 sec just looks in the way.

I’m not sure what’s the problem and even less the solution. Possibly a chair that gets out of the way when you don’t need it. One that adjusts height. I wasn’t familiar with leaning stools but that sounds like a better match for a standing desk. Or maybe the chair could serve another purpose when you’re standing.

Yeah I think its the seatpan that’s making it look like it. There is room to refine the idea though. I find it to be a very interesting construction technique.


With the initial 300 ideations I didn’t have a definitive direction, and for the 30 refinements i tried to choose and include a variety of concepts. Obviously this would include an entirely different target user and environment but does it warrant further development, or should I maybe save this for a side project?

I think its a viable idea. If your passionate about it. Its worth exploring.But Yo comment here is interesting too.

Thought provoking indeed yo. Are you saying I’m trying too hard to come up with an original idea? Is something a good design if it doesn’t have originality to it? Is trying to be unique the same thing as being original, or how does innovation fit into this? I feel if I was just trying to make just a ‘good chair’ I would start researching shaker style furniture and build a well-crafted seat, but (especially in school) it seems striving for something different is a goal.

(gonna take a stab at what i think yo is saying) The persona chair is a quirky idea. But just because its quirky doesn’t mean its a good design. Good idea yes, but good design no. Think what Yo is trying to say is don’t try and use “coming up with something original” as prompt. Because trying to make something radically new, gets you something radically new, but not something that’s good design. Instead try and set out to design something that’s great. The details and refinement you put into the design will make it original.

Its a slight mindset shift. It keeps you from saying this is “good idea because its different.” When it reality it should be a good design, because it in fact is a good design.

There’s a time ans place for kitsch design. But it has a harder time standing up in portfolios.
Sure a portfolio full of Fred and Friends stuff would be cool. But its harder for employers to see the “design” in products like that.