#LetsMakeWednesdays – take a seat!

August 26, 2020

Have you ever thought about how many different types of chairs there are? In the V&A collections we have sofas, office chairs, stools, highchairs, thrones, rocking chairs, school chairs, beanbags – and more! Look around your house and at the V&A collections and see how many different types of chair you can find.

Eileen Gray was an Irish architect and furniture designer working in the early part of the 20th century. You can see some of the chairs she designed in this video:

Let’s get inspired and design our own chairs!

Let’s find inspiration

Furniture designers find inspiration in lots of different places. Can you see what inspired this sofa design?

Pyrenees sofa by Fredrikson Stallard, 2007–2011. Mus. no. W.25-2011 © Victoria and Albert Museum

This sofa is called ‘Pyrenees’ because the shape mimics a mountainous landscape. It was hand-carved from a block of foam. Do you think it looks comfortable? Look out of your window or think about different architecture, landscapes, and animals you might find in your area. Could any of these inspire a chair design?

Let’s think about materials

Chairs are made from all sorts of things. They could be made from metal, plastic, wood, fabric … or something else entirely. It just needs to be strong enough to sit on! What do you think was used to make this rocking chair?

This chair was designed and made in Delhi, India. The colourful rope – called Katran – is made from waste cloth collected from factories and workshops that make clothes. The Katran is attached to a metal frame with wooden rocking legs and armrests. What other materials could you reuse to transform in your chair design?

Let’s hack a school chair!

Now that we’ve found some inspiration and thought about materials, let’s design a new chair for school! Sometimes designers will ‘hack’ – remix or alter – a previous design and experiment with all sorts of new ideas to make something new.

The ‘Marko’ school chair was designed by Jac Vogels in 1960, and is still found in classrooms today.

Red plastic school chair, with white metal legs
'Marcko' chair by Jac Vogels, 1960s. Mus. no. B.207-2009 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Think about hacking the chair so it:

  • Has a special function
  • Can be moved around the classroom more easily
  • Can be used for play
  • Can be used outdoors
  • Can be used as a container
  • Is made from different materials
  • Is inspired by nature or what you might find in your local area

Sketch out your ideas. Which chair do you think will work best? Maybe you can combine two ideas to make them even better?

Let’s make a model!

Now you have lots of different ideas, let’s make a quick model of your favourite hack! Designers often make drawings, small models and prototypes of their ideas and show them to people to get feedback.

Hacked ‘Marko’ school chair with recycled fishing net to hold your things, fabric on the seat and back to make it more comfortable, and a bottle holder.
  1. Take a piece of paper or card and fold it in half
  2. Cut two lines from the fold. Cut them as long, short or wide as you like depending on how high you want the chair legs and how wide you want the seat
  3. Open the paper and pop up the section you have cut, folding it at the creases so it stands up
  4. Draw your chair design by adding legs, a seat, a back, textures and colours … and anything else from your sketches
  5. Finally, design the rest of the room or place your chair is in!

Ask a friend, parent or guardian to see what they think of your hacked school chair design and see if they have any feedback or other ideas!

Don’t forget to show us what you made on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays

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