Thesis Weekly Blog Post #5

Break week:

I have been very busy since the reading week. During the break, I did a lot of idea brainstorming and tried to come out interesting chair designs which not only fit my thesis theme, also aesthetic pleasing. I really enjoying the process of thinking through making; my design kept developing throughout my model making. Some of my early sketches came to real physical form, some of them did not. Images below show the process and the result of first batch of model.

I was not satisfied with the first batch of model I have made. Their forms are too literal, and lack of innovation. I spent many days experimenting and thinking about different types of forms; I have been also doing many ideation sketches based on existing designs after I went back home.

So I picked one of my initial design (design A) and put into further development by combining some inspiration from George Nakashima chairs. My development kept some of iconic calligraphic form from his design and blend with my own interpretation of calligraphy and contemporary culture. Images 1-3 below show the original Nakashima chair designs. Images 4-7 below show the process of my development on this chair design.

Although I really like this chair, it does not present the way I want to present my thesis them: serenity and serene movement. I decided to keep going and picked another initial design in to round two development. My original idea about design B is to use pre-made cane material to create a sense of enclosure and serenity while sitting in the chair. However, through my model making, I found out that I have to create frame works to be able to hold cane in place, which makes the design loses its purity on semi-transparency. In addition, I tossed the idea of making rocking chair, because its spiral head rest will create unbalanced center gravity; so the rocking mechanism will make the chair tippy.

During my design development, I was drawn to a cutlery set inspired by Chinese calligraphy; its organic form and softy flow really inspired me. Later, I spent many hours on my sketch book, draw inspiration from George Nakashima and organic form, at the same time consider what can I find from the real calligraphy writing process. More importantly, I needed to keep in mind what I want to present is a sense of serenity and movement. In result of hours of brainstorming, a evolution on my design B was born. The entire process of thinking through making was very intensive and very challenging but very interesting and satisfying. Images below show my inspiration, sketches and thinking process.

Week 8:

In week 8, I received a critique from both of thesis instructors. They both agree that design B presents my thesis theme perfectly. I agree too. In the same week, I consulted with one of our studio faculty member, he suggested to use goat skin as my chair seat upholstery to present the warmth of the chair and also use the texture of the fur mimics the texture of rice paper which ties to calligraphy. I have tried this idea on my model; but the result is not very satisfying to me, so I am still holding on this idea at this moment. Images below show my experiment with goat skin upholstery.

Week 9:

Break time for me!!! My head was about to blow up.

Week 10:

In week 10 I have also received some suggestions from outside of studio about my thesis design.

One of the advices was about leaving tool marks on the surface of wooden structure to relate the commonality of both the process of woodworking and the process of calligraphy writing. They both have characteristics of one-time work, which there is no turning back: once the wood is taken off by the hand tool, it is gone; once the calligraphy is written, ink is absorbed by rise paper, can not be altered. I do really like this idea, but the correlation on my theme is not very strong, so I am currently holding on it.

Another advice from faculty outside of studio was about the spindles. She was concerning about all the spindles are too jail like; but I replied that I will add individual different angle on individual slats, because all the spindles cross section have oval shape, and their largest face will be directed toward the person sitting inside the chair, which forms the sense of safety and serenity, because his/her view is partially blocked by spindles. At the same time, people who walk around the chair could experience the positive and negative spaces changing from spindles, which create a visual dynamic movement.

Week 11:

Images below show the process of my first cardboard mock up. I first took a picture of my chair model from top view, then input it into Solidworks to trace the bottom frame to scale, and finally cut it out by using CNC router. I was not aware about the shape of frame on my model is not very accurate, so I had very frustrating time try to trace the frame shape I wanted. In result, I have gone through 8 total bottom frame shape test. Finally, I made it! Both ends of the frame are parallel to each other, which makes my fabrication much easier…

Week 12:

Currently, I am working on my chair design’s Solidworks modeling. I have figured out the method of fabrication and prepared for my solid wood mock up. Moreover, I modified spindle quantities and dimensions on the software, tried to find a balanced point, which not making spindle look too crowd and making sure spindles blocks the view. However, I did not make individual spindle oval shape which is too time consuming. I will test them out on my full scale mock up. Further, both back legs are still under development, I will also polish them once the mock up is completed.