Well Proven Chair

Here’s something we don’t see everyday. A chair that looks like it’s made of coloured concrete, but which is actually based on wood factory waste. The concept grew from a design study and is called the Well Proven Chair, perhaps because the base materials – wood and resin – and the shape are all common.

The chair is special because the two young designers who took on an abstract wood challenge and added real innovation to their solution. This winning design offers an answer to a common lament, namely a surplus of waste in factories.

The initial idea came from the realisation that in any production facility, even the best-run, over half of timber becomes waste. Amazingly, this number can be as high as 80%. So the designers decided to incorporate shavings, the ‘basic’ off-shoot from timber production, into the chair. By experimentation, they developed a useful combination. A bio-resin, shavings of a variety of lengths (generated by different factory operations) and water are mixed together. In the right proportions, this creates a kind of controlled explosion.

As the gooey, expanded mass dries, this irregular expansion on one side contrasts with a smooth finish on the other. A well-tested polypropylene chair used as a mould guarantees comfortable sitting on the wooden material that is a hardened foam. Standard legs of American ash are added for stability and the result is a chair which looks new and classic at the same time. No mean feat!

Colours can be changed by using shavings from different wood types. Reddish cherry would give a different hue from ash, for example, a lighter wood which was used in the roof of this French museum. Colouring agents can also be added. Besides these factors, the unpredictable nature of the expansion, which leads to a strong and light-weight material with five times its original volume, means that every chair is unique.

The two designers, James Shaw and Marjan van Aubel, worked with the AHEC and the RCA on the design.