Saturday, November 01, 2008

The corrugated chair

click photo to enlarge
I remember reading, many years ago, about two people who made a very big origami boat out of waxed paper. They placed it on a river, got in, and sailed a good few miles before it succumbed to the effects of the water and collapsed. It was a bit of fun with no real point other than finding out if such a feat was possible. But that didn't stop someone trying it again in Germany last year.

Is a corrugated cardboard chair made for similar reasons? I saw one the other day. It looked marvellous, all curves, layers, and contour-like textures that positively invited you to walk around it, examining the shape from every angle. However, even if sitting on it wasn't forbidden because it was on display, I doubt if I'd have parked my posterior on it because it didn't look particularly inviting. Chairs have long been the focus of experimentation in terms of materials and shape, and fine artists have often tried their hand at designing them, frequently producing visual interest but rarely combining it with comfort. Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) produced a striking "Red and Blue Chair" in 1917, but you wouldn't want to sit on it for long. Salvador Dali (1904-1989) collaborated with Edward James to produce his "Mae West's Lips Sofa", another piece that looks like it offers temporary relief rather than long-term repose. The German-American architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), who was responsible for the design of some iconic chairs, got it right when he said "A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous." Will the corrugated cardboard chair make it from concept to high street store? I doubt it, but what do I know? I'd have said the same about inflatable plastic armchairs and sofas and I've seen those for sale in discount stores and in use in students' flats!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/8
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On