BOING! A new approach to the cantilevered chair

by Andrew Zago


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At Zago Architecture we’ve designed a new cantilevered chair - the BOING! – and are looking for funds to produce our first full-scale prototype.

The tubular cantilevered chair was invented by Dutch architect Mart Stam in 1926. That chair, which used modern materials and methods to create a seemingly impossible suspension of the sitter, shocked the design world and quickly led other architects to design their own versions. From Marcel Breuer to Mies van der Rohe, the cantilevered chair became the de rigour project for modernist architects. Along the way, variations in not just the form of the chair but also the type of cantilever were developed. For the rest of the twentieth century, from Giuseppe Terragni to Vladimir Tatlin; from Gerrit Reitveldt to Jingrich Halabala the cantilevered chair proved to be a fertile ground for architects to experiment with new possibilities in structure, form, and human repose. In subsequent decades, little was done with the cantilever in chairs and its options seemed exhausted.

We have a new idea for a cantilevered chair.

After pouring over the range of diagrams of cantilevered chairs, we realized that some significant permutations have not been tried. In particular, a contortionist-type combination of a forward cantilevered seat with a backward cantilevered armrest and back. This cross-cantilevered arrangement creates a surprisingly lively and supple sitting experience. At the same time, we’ve updated the formal aspirations of the chair in light of twenty first century geometries.

The modernist tubular chair employed then-novel materials and fabrication techniques such as extruded steel sections, radii-based bending and chromium plating. This resulted in chairs composed of straight lines and regular curved bends. As a line in space, the apparent volumes these chairs suggested were boxes.

For the BOING!, state-of-the-art 3-D modeling and scripting software is used to create a tube that constantly varies in both diameter and curvature. In doing so, this chair suggests volumes that are sculptural and intertwined.

The frame of our chair can’t be produced with conventional tubes or bending techniques. Instead, it will be cast in stainless steel. To do this, we will first carve segments of the frame from high-density foam using a three-axis CNC mill. These will be used as positives to create a mold for the casting.

We are looking for funds to create a working, full-scale, prototype of the chair. The first $12,000 raised will go towards preparing the model for milling, producing the milling and casting, and fabricating the cushions. Money raised over $12,000 will go towards the fabrication of a second working prototype.

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