The Final chair
Out of all the pieces in my senior collection I decided to build the club chair. Here is why:
We all have an arm chair in our family that we have vivid memories of. Maybe you still own it or maybe you remember it from your childhood. I have heard stories from interviews about people who remember their mother reading her book every evening in this specific arm chair in their living room. I heard someone say that the upholstery has worn down on their dads arm chair where he rests his head every night after a long day of work. I specifically have incredible memories of my grandfather doing the cross word in his arm chair every time I would come over to visit. He has since passed away but every time I go to visit my grandmother I look at the arm chair and see him.
It is memories and stories like these that have inspired me to choose a future in designing furniture. Furniture is something that with out you knowing becomes engraved in your memories.
And with that I designed a collection of furniture that was made to foster memories. They are pieces of furniture designed and made to last several generations.
I decided to build this club chair because I know it is a piece of furniture that will be the start of my personal collection of furniture.
From the computer to real life
Available for purchase
The most important part of this process was picking the materials.
The first decision was wood. I ended up using a walnut and a walnut veneer for the chair structure as it is a timeless color and a wood that is known for its strength.
I designed the textile to be something fun, modern but also a little reminiscent of the 60's because you can always reupholster a chair so why not have a little fun right now.
Finally, the fringe. Oh where to begin. I fought a uphill battle to do the fringe. And while there was plenty of negative feedback, in the end I stuck with my heart and went with a whopping 8 inch bullion fringe.
Let see what she is made of.
step one: mock up
I started the process by making a rough mock up. The mock up was a quick form study made from ply wood.
I also determined what connections were going to be used and where.
step two: The wood bends
In a perfect world the wood bends for this chair would have been made of solid wood veneer. However, as I am a student and do not have $700.00 to spend on wood veneer the arms of the chair are wood bends made from birch ply.
The wood bends are first vacuumed formed, after they are leveled on the ban saw. I then cut walnut caps and shape them to the ply bends and did a glue up. From here I was able to do a final glue up in the vacuum bag with the veneer.
Below see the three wood bends at three seperate stages of the process.
STEP THREE : WOOD FINISH
Start turning heads.... I put a boiled linseed oil on the walnut wood bends for a finishing touch before I sent it off to the upholsterers.
STEP FIVE: THE TEXTILE
While designing this fabric I was heavily inspired by my grandmothers decorating. She was known to decorate in monochromatic while still playing heavily with prints and textures. I wanted the print to be reminiscent of the 70's while still being playful and modern. After all, you can always reupholster a chair.
I also wanted to test scale and contrast within each project.
At WOVNS.COM I was able to pick my color pallet and decide on the final weaves for each of the colors in my repeat pattern.
Step SIX: THE UPHOLSTERS
my oh my.... finding an upholster that was interested in taking on this design was the hardest part of this project. ________________________________________________________________________
"Hello, I am a furniture design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design and I was wondering if you had a moment to talk about a possible custom furniture piece."
" Okay. I sent you an email of a few renders of the chair to see if it is something that might be able to get done"
"Okay, let me check the email..... Oh wow. No. Definitely not something we can do"
"Hello Lulu, this is (XXX) upholsters, yes we looked at your chair and that looks like a very daunting task... I really do not know what this chair is. Please call me, I have so many questions"
"We can do this chair if you are making 100. How many are you planning on selling?"
"Well this is a prototype so it would just be this one..."
"Oh... but then you come to us to make more?"
"Ummm no. It would just be this one."
" OH.. then no."
But then finally, I got an email back from Taylor Upholstery who is local and they were interested in the project. I immediately called back and well the rest is history. Below are pictures of their incredible process.
Step sEVEN: the assembly
With all the upholstered parts back from the upholsters I worked on the intricate assembly that would attach all three of the upholstered pieces.
The pieces are all attached with a threaded insert and a 1/4" bolt. Nine 1/4" bolts go through the wood bend into the wood panel in the upholstered seat. Then another six 1/4" bolts go from under the bottom panel through the wood bend. The chair can then have the bottom taken off for easier long distance moving.
To finalize the piece I attached the 8 " Bullion fringe.
I also turned four legs out of poplar and painted them a ox blood color. While time was spent on legs that you can not see it is whats underneath that counts.
THE MORRIS CHAIR
Available for purchase.