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.