Building Half a Chair

Still languishing in post-dissertation limbo, I decided a couple of days ago that I should make something to try and get things going again. Picking up from previous themes around collaborative production, I teamed up with good pal Henry Flitton with the vague plan to build something together. Now, both of us are in our third year of studying design, and neither of us have ever made a chair. This farcical state of affairs obviously had to be addressed.

We made some rules. We would make half a chair each, split down the middle. A loose set of measurements was agreed – the height and depth of the back and seat, no more. We would build the two halves in separate rooms of the workshops so that we weren’t influenced by what the other person was building.

My Half

For my half, I basically got a big plank of wood for the seat, and rather than making two legs to hold it up, used loads of pieces of thick dowel. This was less an aesthetic decision than an attempt to avoid having to dwell too much on the chair’s structural integrity. I figured that if I don’t really know what I’m doing, eleven legs are probably better than two.

After a full afternoon of making, we both proudly emerged with half a chair, and set out to somehow stick them together. Much crude bolting of wooden planks later, the halves were joined and we held our breaths as Henry took the first sit on this rather ramshackle creation. It held, and is actually a pretty solid chair. Well, it wobbles a bit. Its got character.

Fixing

Divide

Chair

Chair Works.

There’s a really nice thing in the personalities and styles encapsulated in the two contrasting halves. Close friends found it quite easy to say which of us made which half – the aesthetic and structural decisions made during the making process revealed clear things about each respective maker.

I’m going to try this kind of stuff with more people to see how the dynamic changes – whether more people is better, how organisation needs to change within groups of different sizes, when it becomes too many people etc.

Back in a bit.

The conclusions to these posts are getting worse and worse aren’t they?

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