.....INCLUSIVE FURNITURE DESIGN*

The convergence of architecture and furniture design has been prevalent throughout the history of the 20th century; this relation may have reached an early zenith with the prototype design of the Red and Blue Chair in 1918 by the Dutch architect / designer Gerrit Rietveld.

The chair was an embodiment of the art movement De Stijl, but in three dimensions and its design was a literal reflection of the minimal orthogonal spatial extension of elements that would later define its architectural successors. The furniture object was the embodiment of the architectural project before the architectural project even existed; it was in this sense a catalyst for future architectural design.

This summer session furniture fabrication seminar maintains the notion of furniture as a catalyst for architectural design, moving beyond the dialectical relationship of the furniture object and the space of containment to instead consider how furniture itself might foster an architectural experience, impacting its context and in some cases even creating its own “microenvironment” through an inclusive approach to its design. Also of central issue to the seminar will be the reconsideration of materiality in furniture design, developing and effectively inventing our own material composites through the re-appropriation of existing / found materials, using traditional building materials in new ways and considering them as active generators in the design process.

The seminar will be divided into three projects starting with an initial ten day project that asks students to design & fabricate a chair through the re-appropriation of found materials. It’s expected that the design for the chair will be born out of the reinvention of these found materials; students will have to respond to the found object(s) existing attributes and consider how they might be used in alternative ways for the purpose of sitting. The second two week project will ask students to reconsider the fundamental nature of two material types: rigid (ie. plywood) and non-rigid (ie. fabric) through reconsidering the notion of material intersection. The class will be divided between these two material types, those with rigid will be asked to design & fabricate a hanging operable screen wall and those with non-rigid will be asked to design & fabricate a self-supporting screen wall that incorporates a series of openings. In the last project students will be asked to form small groups (2-3) and develop a flexible module that may be aggregated together in a variety of ways in order to produce partial enclosure, a “microenvironment,” which must also accommodate a place for sitting and a surface for working. Since these assemblies will be flexible there is an opportunity for them to be installed in various locations within Slocum Hall providing an opportunity for the generic assemblies to become specific to an existing set of conditions as well as giving the larger public an opportunity to experience and interact with them.

*This class was offered as an elective seminar class