Aaron’s Danish-Inspired Lounge Chair

Viewer Project - By Aaron Gahr from Charlottesville, VA
Added on September 12, 2013

This Danish-inspired lounge chair was the result of a love of mid-century Danish furniture and a fascination with the process of bending wood. Along with this fascination there also existed a goal of creating an object that could be disassembled to help aid in the process of moving. In the end I was able to bring this loose collection of ideas and goals together into a cohesive project.

Early during the design process, research into the works of Hans Wegner and Poul Kjaerholm was used to set decisions regarding general form and a desired material. On top of that, extensive research and photography of comfortable sitting positions and desirable proportions was used to bring the chair into the proper scale for the individual and eventually its users. From here a series of 1/4 scale models were created so the chair could be seen in space.

The chair is composed of 6 bent laminations, 4 for the frame and 2 for the seat. Each laminated frame member consists of 28 plies cut at a thickness of 1/16th of an inch. The relatively extreme bends of the forms drove the thickness of the plies and less the idea of wanting to disguise the process of lamination. A series of stretcher bars, six in total, were placed between the left and right side of the frame to prevent racking and set the overall width of the chair. A secondary design idea was trying to disassociate the frame and the seat. In many of the works of Poul Kjaerholm, a technique of placing spacers between the two so that they could be read as 2 separate entities was employed. Beyond simply looking nice, this would help me solve a later design challenge of weaving the seat.

Briefly, the seat of the chair is woven from a traditional Danish material called a Danish cording. The cording is imported from Denmark and is made from strands of twisted brown paper. On its own in a coil the material is fairly uninspiring, but when built up and woven, it forms a taut surface with slight give to help cradle the user while also allowing for the seat to breath.

Lastly, the issue of dis-assembly needed to be tackled, which meant research into specific hardware and joinery for this process. The entire chair is assembled without glue, except between the laminated plies of course. Instead, it relies on barrel nuts and mortise and tenons to hold the entire chair together. Each stretcher bar has been cut with a shoulder mortise as well as drilled out to receive a barrel nut and bolt. In total, the frame and seat are held together with 16 bolts, and 8 bolts connecting the seat to the frame. Through this method of joinery, one ends up a with a chair with extremely minimal to no racking but can also be disassembled fairly easily, even if there are no plans to ever take it apart.

This project served as a laboratory to test and push my abilities as both a designer and as a carpenter.