Freeform furniture is made from one piece of felt (Video)

Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun
© Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun

We typically think of felt as a textile, rather than as a building material for furniture. But when mixed with resin, this soft, flexible material can become something rigid enough to use for sturdy furniture, as graduate students from the Bartlett School of Architecture are showing with this striking felt-composite chair that has been made with one sheet of felt.

Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun© Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun

Dubbed FaBrick, the design uses digital modelling and fabrication, plus some experimenting with the ratio of how much resin to add to the felt, without weighing it down. Different parts of the chair could have different ratios of resin applied, making some parts of the chair softer or harder than others. The video below shows their process, and some of it seems reminiscent of H.R. Giger or a super-gothic aesthetic:

FaBrick from I-Ting Tsai on Vimeo.

Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun© Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun
Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun© Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun

The design is worked out on a computer, and cut from a single sheet using a laser cutter, sewn together by hand and reinforced with resin. Somdatta Majumdar, one of the graduate students who developed the material with colleagues I-Ting Tsai, Xixi Zheng and Yiri Yun, explain on Dezeen:

The chair design is created by the same process of machine cutting the felt and letting the fabric stand on its own after which the composite is hardened. The fabric itself becomes the legs, seat and backrest, being the sole material used in design. A digital technique was developed showing the stitching of the fabric on a computer. With some of those digital design experiments as inspiration, the form of the chair was designed.

Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun© Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun
Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun© Majumdar, Tsai, Zheng & Yun

Though there's no word on what kind of resin was used, it's worthwhile to note here that plant-based, biodegradable resins have a smaller ecological footprint to produce and are less toxic.

This clever, almost-flatpack technique produces a unique, complex form with organic, root-like structures that seem to grow out of the wall or ground, yet thanks to its felt base, can feel quite soft, according to the designers. So instead of waiting a few years to grow a chair out of a tree, you might just someday be able to mimic those same organic forms with a felt-and-resin composite. More over at Dezeen.

Tags: Flat Pack | Furniture | Materials

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