Cartesian chair

Here’s a great example of design as a combination of engineering and artistry. The Cartesian Chair takes high-end aluminium shaping and mixes it with ergonomic furniture design. It’s the work of designer Alexander Purcell Rodrigues, who collaborated with aluminium manufacturer Neal Feay to create and shape the chair.

The chair serves as an example of a designer’s desire to push the boundaries of what’s possible in machining aluminium with precision tooling. It uses aircraft-grade aluminium sheet metal, adding a subtle ornamentation generated by computer algorithms. It is finished with a faded anodized layer.

Some of the chairs have an ombré anodized finish (which combines three different colours) or with solid wooden legs. Though the chair is solid enough to appear hewn from a solid block, the designer states that it is actually fabricated from small stock which keeps waste to a minimum.

The surface patterning was optimised for metal strength and stiffness in Grasshopper. The patterns allow for digital manipulation and for machining with high-precision. Using a novel process, the designer and manufacturer create a more efficient chair from the available material than usual. After fabrication, all parts are put together in a simple flat pack for transportation.

Finished chairs are available in a range of anodised colours, and can be ornamented or left ‘blank’. The solid wood legs are made using either walnut or white oak.

The Cartesian Chair is so-called as its design is coordinate-based, from Rene Descartes’ universal system for graphical projection that is now used in all CAD software. Watch a video of the chair in production here. Other images via the designer, Alexander Purcell Rodrigues.