This piece is inspired by a traditional african chair design, which I have given a more contemporary, European feel and produced using some more modern methods of construction.
One of the many attractive features in the design of this chair, is the use of simple engineering principles to make it stand up. The chair is constructed of two parts, which can be separated for ease of transportation. The rear-leg/seat component is not fixed in place, but simply passes through a hole in the chair back, from which it can be removed when required. I love the simple engineering of this design, which provides a very stable and strong chair. Another of the attractions for me, is the look and feel of the traditional chairs, which are beautiful to look at and are very tactile pieces, with carved surfaces inviting touch.
Remaining true to the basic principals of the traditional design, my chair has two components, which can be separated. But, for my contemporary design, I have altered the normal proportions of the chair and produced a piece which has a higher seat and a more upright back than the traditional designs. I produced the rear leg by steam bending as this provides a solid timber section for the leg, and a relatively ‘unprocessed’ solution to the problem of obtaining a curved length of wood, which complements the simplicity and organic nature of the chair. (Follow this link to see a short video of the leg being steam bent)
Following the theme of the traditional chair design, I chose to use a native species of timber for my chair and have constructed it from Olive Ash, which has beautiful grain patterns and the Olive Ash back and seat complement the Ash rear leg.
The outline shape of the chair is designed to give it aesthetically pleasing, but simple lines, with profiled areas which really show off the beauty of the Olive Ash in section. The inner face of the chair back is shaped, both for comfort and to provide additional interest, and relieved sections at the top of the chair enhance the look of the Olive Ash as well as providing easily accessible areas for touching and feeling.
In line with the traditional theme, I felt it was appropriate to hand-finish all the shaped surfaces of the back and seat, which I really enjoyed, as this allowed me to really feel the shapes and curves being made by my own hands. I also feel that the hand-shaping has produced a very tactile piece of furniture which invites people to feel the smooth contoured surfaces, which was one of the attractive aspects of the traditional carved design.
The final finishing of the chair is hand-applied oil, in several coats, which has served to enhance the grain in the Olive Ash and provide a hard-wearing surface to the chair.