Chairs from the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year Show


Images by B. Alter

The Brit Insurance Designs of the Year Show, held in association with the Design Museum in London, is an exhibition of the best of international design. Nominated by a panel, there are more than 100 design items in seven different categories on display.

There were a lot of interesting chairs this year. Before we start on them, here's the (non-chair) design that many are touting as this year's winner. (Last year's was the poster of President Obama, and the year before was the One Laptop per Child). It's a convertible, folding UK electrical plug which is small, elegant and folds down to a width of just 10mm. Why is it great? Because existing UK plugs are large, clunky and heavy.
Image from designboom

On to the chairs, and starting with the king, Shigeru Ban, who has come up with the Carbon Fibre Chair. He says that he "set out to make a chair that was even lighter than Gio Ponti's, a chair so light that a child could pick it up with just his or her little finger." It's made of TENAX, a lightweight carbon fibre and is wafer thin and very light.


Polytopia is cutting edge design by an Australian. It is meant to be communal seating which can be rearranged in different configurations. It is made from recycled plastic and looks a bit monolithic and clunky in real life.

Pallets are the new new and for good reason: they are sustainable, recycled, and make use of discarded packaging. The interesting part of these very basic but serviceable chairs is that they can be ordered online for a mere £10 ( $US 15) and the instructions downloaded. In addition, unemployed workers in a slum of Buenos Aires are making them in a furniture co-operative. Give them a prize.

The Houdini Armrest Chair from Germany is an elegant and modern creation. It is made of green wood and inspired by production techniques used for model airplanes: no screws or nails are used. The wood is stretched by hand to form the back and part of the seat.


Breathe Furniture is the work of another Australian. Designed for the outdoors, it is big and bulky but has been created using all recyclable material, and is shipped with recyclable packaging.

The Worldmade Sport Wheelchair is a low-cost sports wheelchair, designed to encourage sports programmes in developing countries. Costing £150, it is a tenth the price of most and there are 2 designs: one for basketball and the other for tennis. Its goal is to encourage new teams and programmes by making a simple and affordable chair available.

Tags: Designers | Furniture