Thesis Weekly Blog Post#9

Week 6-7 and midterm critique:


My thesis project development is still slowly running towards my year goal. Since I have finished the steam bending, I urgently wanted to nail down my chair seat shape and the fabric selection for the chair, and at the same time I managed to further develop my side table design and made a mockup for my midterm critique. Fortunately, I have been selected for participating the 2019 WantedDesign LaunchPad in May, Manhattan, New York; according to the application I submitted, I need to try to finish the chair project before March 31st to leave myself enough time to do the photography, and allow WantedDesign to do the social media promotion. More importantly, I have to do a lot of preparations to bring the project over the boarder.

Next, I have been inactive on my process document for my thesis project, mainly because I had so many details needed to refine and revise on my chair design, I wanted to complete settle down the design before I do any changes. I thought it is the most efficient way to do this kind of document, which helps me to focus on the content not the unfinished tasks. Based on the feedbacks I recieved on the midterm critique and some thoughts from faculty members outside of the program, I have done various changes on the chair seat structure, shape and upholstery. I think now it is about the time to start working on the process document. Currently, I have start my fabrication on the chair and still polishing the side table design.

This is my final semester for my bachelor degree, I always planning for my future, I hope my effort will be my harvest…

Chair seat shape, upholstery and the under structure:

I have so much emerged into my own design and never really considered the seat upholstery carefully. I have decided to ask some of our faculty member outside the program, and I was trying to get feedbacks which may help me figure out the best fabric and more balanced color for the chair seat. My original idea was to use natural material such as wool or felt to mimic the paper texture, which is to create a thematic connection to the calligraphy inspired chair gesture.

I have taken the advise from faculty member, went various of fabric store in Toronto. The felt samples image you see on the left is from the King textile. These samples are made of 100% wool, they feel very soft. However, my thesis instructor suggest me to look for more high-end well made woven fabric, because the natural wool may just let the people feel too cheap for my chair design. I agree, the chair should look holistically connected. Moreover, I personally feel there are should be a visual connection between the seat and the chair frame. As you can see in the rendered picture, the light grey seat is visually separated from the black chair frame.

The other two fabrics in the images come from Maharam. I visited the Maharam in Toronto, and went through all of their fabric catalog and selected two of my favorite wool woven fabric. They both felt very comfortable, and their woven craftsmanship on the fabrics are excellent. Based on what I mentioned earlier, I selected the Hallingdal by Kvadrat 460760–173 as my seat upholstery fabric, because it contains black and grey, which helps the seat blend into the chair structure. I have placed the fabric order last week, and now have been delivered. Additionally, as you can see in the last image above, I would like to construct a panel under the seat cushion, not only to create a visual link to the seat but also help to secure the structure.

The reflection I got from the midterm critique mostly is about the seat shape. Both instructors and the guest are suggesting an asymmetric seat shape to match up the chair form. In the past weekend, I have done some changes on the digital model and cut out a physical template; during the break week I am going to make a cushion mockup to test out the depth of the seat and the comfortability of the seat.

Side table design:

Inspired by lili pad and lotus, I designed this side table with a water ripple effect on the surface, which brings the quietness and poetic beauty to the design.

To come up with this idea, I have re-drawn many sketches to figure out the composition on the three surfaces table. In my theme of serenity, I am not only enjoy the psychological serenity happens in the calligraphy, also the serenity formed by the natural environment. Through my model making process, I found the three surfaces for a side table is too busy and redundant, and I was not able to test out a perfect composition for it. Thus, I simply reduced it to two surfaces, which further emphasis the ripple effect detail. I cut table top in many different sizes on CNC router to find out the perfect dimension to match the ripple effect detail. The final mockup I presented in the midterm critique has 21’’ diameter for the large table and 11’’ diameter for the small surface. My feedback on the table was to increase the height of the small table, therefore to give more space and attention to the ripple detail.

Fabrication mode:

In the past weeks, I have also accomplished many preparation tasks for my chair fabrication. In the first image, you can see a torsion box supporting my chair mockup; it is to secure the chair for assembly and shaping. It also helps to installing the back legs and trimming the legs to a same level. The CNC machine is very useful for my fabrication; I cut all the spindle templates with the CNC router, because all of my chair spindle have different length and width. Furthermore, CNC machine could accurately engrave reference lines on the sheet material which is used for the angled drilling on the steam bent chair head rest. In the meantime, I have removed some of the steam bent stocks from the drying form, and jointed the bottom surfaces to same level. while I am waiting other steam bent piece to dry, I started milling some material and fabricating spindles.

Here are some video clips on my fabrication in the Instagram links below.