Upholstery in 3-D Comes into ICFF 2013

Having a style of the near top and also a nod to the past on the bottom, this eclectic seat blends iconic and innovative layout in an award-winning part of furniture. Katie Lee, a product design student at the University of Oregon, made this “6 Shades of Gray” seat for Wilsonart’s ninth yearly pupil chair design contest. The seat is going to be showcased at the 2013 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City.

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After much experimentation, Lee mixed an artistic mixture of cotton canvas, laminate chips and plywood to make this creative final result.

Each year Wilsonart works using a different design college to reinvent the seat using Wilsonart laminate stuff. This season the company challenged University of Oregon product design pupils to reinterpret the traditional café seat. “My favorite part about going to cafés is that they’re also a gallery,” says Lee. “How I made my seat, the laminate is like art.”

Lee used industrial glue to adhere high-pressure laminate triangles to cotton canvas. She liked the way the contrasting materials sensed, and made a “pelt” to drape over the seat’s backrest.

Six shades of gray laminate — shown here — combine in an ombré color treatment. Lee used a CNC (computer numerical control) system to cut the hundreds of triangles, which she hand sanded to get just the ideal shape.

Lee attempted other shapes but went with triangles for their delicate movement. When attached to the foam-covered seat back, the triangle-covered canvas generates interesting three-dimensional shapes — a nice comparison to laminate’s normally static type. This shot reveals Lee playing paper triangles on cloth, before cutting the last laminate shapes.

You can even see 3-D ripples on the rear of the finished chair. The angled seat arms highlight the triangular pattern. A single red triangle on either side of the arms pays homage to the iconic Wilsonart sample processor. “It almost looks like the tips of the arms were dipped into a bucket of red paint,” she says.

The plywood chair contrasts with painted dowel legs. Steel sticks on the thighs emanate the iconic Eames’ DSW seat.

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