How To Make A Chair Interview

I was recently asked by a student of Lahti University of Applied Science, Institute of Design and Fine Arts to answer a few questions about my work and my Bow Spring Chair design.

Where did you study? When did you graduate?

I studied at The Dublin Institute of Technology were I got my five year Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2012. I then moved to Boston where I studied for two years at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and got my Masters in May 2015. I am now working for Toshiko Mori Architect in Manhattan.

Gung Hall Can you talk a bit about your style and design process?

Rather than a particular “style”, I have developed certain core design values that are important to me which guide my design choices. This means that I don’t limit or pigeonhole myself into a particular aesthetic style, but rather design based upon these values that I have developed over time.

I want my work to be clear and efficient. Structurally, the most efficient solutions are the most beautiful, and so I strive for efficiency rather than beauty. Nature is the perfect example of how efficient design yields beautiful results.

I’m drawn to the idea of democratic design by which I mean, thoughtful design that is accessible to, and benefits as many people as possible. This has consequences on everything from the choice of materials for a chair, to the level of shelter a large building provides to the public.

I approach design as a problem solving exercise. I begin by gathering as much information about the project as possible. Based upon that information I set myself a series of problems to solve and/or goals to achieve. I then try and view these problems/goals from different perspectives asking lots of “what if?” questions. I often start by inverting the accepted norms of a particular idea or project. I find this to be a very fruitful starting point for innovative ideas.

Where did the idea for the Bow Spring Chair come from?

In September 2013 I was taking an architecture design studio with Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid architects. My design partner and I were experimenting with timber gridshell structures for large-scale buildings. Our experiments were based upon the structures of the late German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto. We built several structural models and began exploring the idea of double shell timber structures. We found these structures to be both extremely flexible and strong at the same time. It was from these models that I began exploring the double bow structure for the chair.

Web Slides Package 2

IMG_4258 IMG_4259IMG_4275IMG_4272double shell

What inspired you to make the chair?

I have always been very interested in product design. As a student of the Harvard Graduate School of Design I was also allowed to register as a student of MIT where they offer a semester long class in furniture design. It was here that I took the double gridshell ideas that I had been exploring the previous year in studio.

Side A Resized

Detail A Resized

When did you manufacture the chair?

December 2014.

How long did it take to design the chair?

Design took about one month.

How long did it take to make the chair?

Fabrication took three months part-time at the MIT fabrication Lab.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair – ICFF, New York

Booth Mock Up Render 1 Edited

I recently applied to show some of my furniture designs at the ICFF in New York from May 16th – 19th. The ICFF is North America’s premier showcase for contemporary design. Above is a mockup of what my 10′ x 5′ booth could look like. If selected to exhibit I plan to loop videos of the fabrication process of the Bow Spring Chairs and the gridshell light system that I am developing.

For the four-day duration of the Fair, 165,000 net square feet (15,300 net square meters) of the Javits Center will be abuzz with more than 32,000 interior designers, architects, retailers, representatives, distributors, facility managers, developers, manufacturers, store designers, and visual merchandisers. On Tuesday, May 19, the ICFF opens its doors to the general public, as well.

More than 700 exhibitors from all points of the globe will display contemporary furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, materials, wall coverings, accessories, textiles, and kitchen and bath for residential and commercial interiors. This remarkable throng of exhibitors creates an unparalleled opportunity to view a broad yet highly focused selection of the world’s finest, most innovative, and original avant-garde home and contract products side-by-side, under one roof.

Bow Spring Chair featured on ArchDaily

The Bow Spring Chair that I recently designed as part of a furniture workshop at MIT was recently featured on the Spanish-speaking section of ArchDaily. I have also recently opened a store on Etsy.com where you can buy the Bow Spring Chair directly. There will be new additions to the store in the coming weeks, so keep checking back.

Archdaily Bow Spring