A Master’s Thesis by Ahn Hye Jin
SPACE FRAME FURNITURE Aalto University , ARTS
SPACE FRAME FURNITURE A furniture series, based on engineering structures, using 8mm steel rod
Ahn Hye Jin
Master of Art thesis by Ahn Hye Jin Furniture programme, Department of Design Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture ÂŠ2014 Ahn Hye Jin
Anna Recasens Aoi Yoshizawa Brenda Vértiz Cynthis Jane Mo Daniel Moralez Deniz Üner Doonapol Srichan Eetu Enqvist Federico Poggioli Jarkko Kurronen Jenni Sarma Jukka Itälä Junmyung Lee JY Park Hana Cho Kasper Nyman Markus Koistinen Martina Babišová Mia Suvi-Tuuli Myungji Suh Noora Liesimaa Sarang Ganoo Stiina Kiuru Sunyoung Lee Tatu Vienamo Veera Sievänen Will Harmer
SUPERVISORS Jouko Jarvisalo Martin Relander
WRITING SUPPORT Hanna Karkku Toby Humphrey
TECHINICAL SUPPORT Martin Hackenberg Matti Kauppinen Teemu Mäntylä Arto Sillanpää
PHOTOGRAPH Veera Lipasti
FAMILY Mom, thanks for sending me food. Dad, thanks for paying my rent. Brother, thanks for your letter. I love you so much, even though i donâ€™t say aloud.
The purpose of this study is to build a series of lightweight furniture through a study of engineering structures, especially space frames. The goal is to find an appropriate structural form for the furniture that combines the concepts of aesthetics and visual lightness. Both theoretical and prototyping research methodologies are utilized in this study. The theoretical portion documents the attitude toward form and material, and this continues with a focus on an engineering structure, and metal. Through the review of structural art statement, one can find artistic value in the aesthetics of engineering structures. This is mainly focused on the concept of the modernism and functionalism movements to analyze the major developmental changes in engineering structures in order to find a method of representation for adapting the space frame into design object within the morphology of an engineering structure. This method relies on literary research by comparing various engineers, architects and artists. The subject, structure, is narrowed down to the space frame, and this shows both its theoretical aspect and also structural application examples in engineering, architecture, and furniture design. The research continues to explore the attitude not only toward structure, but also toward materiality, given the strong relationship between engineering structures and their material. This approach refers to a concept in architectural design know as â€˜material honestyâ€™, the practice of exploiting a materialâ€™s inherent properties. Through this approach the most appropriate materials selection is metal. Thusly research must be undertaken to examine historical references, chiefly furniture of tubular pipe and steel rod. It is true that every design decision cannot be explained with an entirely rationalistic attitude, so there are irrational aspects, which are only explored as part of the design process. This offers a new topic, engaged in aesthetic decisions. In this study, the concept of light and rigidity is defined to correspond with a structural and material arrangement.
The prototype process for a space frame furniture series is to develop a proper structure that matches the theoretical research. This is closely related to proportion and the structural aspects of bending metal. Also surface choice and finishing is associated to the aesthetic decisions.
Keywords Structural Art, Space Frame, Steel rod, Lightness, Rigidity, Series of furniture
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
1. Context ot the study
: Structure, material and decision
CHAPTER 1 STRUCTURE
2. Problem and Motivation
4. Outline of Thesis
1.1. Engineering and design 1.1.1. structural art 1.1.2. structure and inspiration
1.2. Space Frame 1.2.1. Space frame for furniture 1.2.2. Concept of Space Frame 1.2.3. Advantage of Space frame 1.2.4. Variation of space frame architecture, product, and arts
CHAPTER 2 M AT E R I A L
CHAPTER 3 AESTHETIC DECISION
2.1. Influence of material
2.1.1. From material to form and idea 2.2.2. Restriction by structure 2.1.3. Honesty, and aesthetics 2.2. Metal and furniture 2.2.1. New look furniture with tubular bending in 20th century 2.2.2 furniture made of steel rod
3.1. Poetry in Objective and subjective
3.2. As light as possible 3.2.1. Lightness in furniture 3.2.2. Lightness in physical weight 3.2.3. Lightness as a visual aspect 3.2.4. Lightness and thin material
3.3. As triangular as possible 3.3.1. Diagonal 3.3.2. Triangle
3.4. Total design 3.4.1. Importance of collection 3.4.2. Structure oriented project
CHAPTER 4. PRODUCTION
4.1. The starting point
: Decision of material and category of furniture 4.2. Structure 4.2.1. Starting from rocking chair 4.2.2. Study of base frame 4.2.3. Study of backrest 4.2.4. Core element
4.3. Rod Diameter
4.4. General Form, Proportion and Ergonomics
4.5. Frame : Bending, Joints and Detail 4.5.1. General bending rule 4.5.2. Cross bending and connection ; Lounge and dining chair 4.5.3. Foot 4.5.4. Connection
4.6. Surfaces 4.6.1. Surface and material 4.6.2. Surface shape, bending and radius 4.6.3. Surface aesthetic decision
4.7.1. General rule : tone and color 4.7.2. Frame finishing 4.7.3. Surface finishing 4.8. Final product 4.8.1. Technical drawings 4.8.2. Final technical drawings 4.8.3. Exploded view 4.8.4. Photo
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY
140 148 152
LIST OF FIGURES
â€œA designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategistâ€?
- Buckminster Fuller
1. CONTEXT OT THE STUDY S T R U C T U R E , M AT E R I A L A N D D E C I S I O N
Design of an object, both at the large scale, like a building, and smaller scale like a chair, is ruled by physical and technical discipline. There are various aspects that affect the physical result, such as materiality, the structural arrangement of elements, and the resulting overall form. Thus structure, material, and aesthetics are commonly highlighted in the design process and in criticizing furniture or architecture. Structure is closely related to the safety, reliability, and function. So, an object should meet these basic criteria in order to perform its own function. The fundamental criteria of structure is reliability, and safety. Based on this, the object will fulfill its function by resisting the forces that result from human activities or environmental conditions. Also, based on the function of an object, the form of structure can be modified. Furthermore, it contributes to a visual aspect of the design. In this sense, structure is an arrangement of each elements that together define the properties of the overall form. New materials are competitively developed as required by the application of furniture design. It drives new aesthetic challenges. When plastic began to be used in furniture, it automatically brought new shapes and form, for example free forms, organic shapes, or bulky volumes, application of various colours etc. When a material is applied as part of a design, it express the characteristics that define it. So design is formed by underlying material understanding. Along with physical consideration, design process includes creativity and theories developed by designers or architects. Especially creativity is expressed as aesthetic decisions about physical objects. Creativity integrates an understanding of aesthetics, and its effects on the design process. Thus each individualâ€™s creativity is variable, and it drives decision making differently. This allows the changes of style and appearance among each objects that serve the same functions. Even though, buildings and furniture have been created over a long time, they have still been developed and
designed in different forms, methods, and contexts. Once a need of society is changed, new technology is developed and designers offers similar solutions to solve the new problems. Although similar, theses solutions are never the same, since the structure and material implementations on design differ through the decisions of different designers.
2 . P R O B L E M A N D M O T I VAT I O N
Structural, material, and aesthetic decisions are closely linked together and effect each other. Decision making in design involves balancing these different aspects. When a structure is decided, its natural aesthetics are passed on to the final prototype and this structural aesthetic defines the selection of available materials. This material selection in turn has an effect on the resulting aesthetics and may require further structural modification based on the characteristics of the chosen material. During this process decisions are made, not only on both structural and material aesthetics, but also subjective decisions based on intuition should be considered. However, sometimes design is concentrated on only one aspect, breaking the balance. For example, function can be lost through excessive personal expression on the project. Also, an over-analysis of needs or technology could result in an unpleasant appearance of the design. Thus every element should be balanced and considered in a holistic approach. Despite the application of each of these considerations, sometimes certain impacts are ignored. When a chair is designed, structure is considered as part of the construction method, rather than as a visual element. For example, a chairâ€™s supporting beams are usually hidden underneath the seating to create an overall more simple aesthetic. Engineering structures are not only relevant in architectural expression, or a structural support element, but also for the design of smaller scale products and even for art pieces through applying its theory or visual elements. Based on the approach, this thesis begins with a question: How can engineering structures be developed into a structural element of furniture design, and what are the possible considerations required to develop it?
The purpose of this study is to suggest a series of metal furniture, the design of which is based on an engineering structure, the space frame, and also closely related to study of material, especially steel rods. It is focused on the development of a structural form of furniture that could applied on various form and proportion. In order to achieve this, this thesis examines the opportunity of the aesthetic and technical aspects of an engineering structure, and finding influence of the material on structure and form of the design. Furthermore, the concept of lightness, which is obtained by structural and material choice, will be defined within the project. There are some research questions that are necessary to be answered in order to apply theses topics to furniture development. The research questions are: a. How a man-made structure, especially engineering structure, can be an inspiration source for furniture design? (Chapter 1)
b. Why material choices are important for designing furniture?
And how material effects form and aesthetic choices? (Chapter 2)
c. How modern furniture has been developed using tubular pipe and steel rods? (chapter 3) d. What is the concept of lightness in the furniture design? (Chapter 3)
e. What can be needed for rigidity in lightweight furniture? (Chapter 3) However, there is one question that remains, â€œHow do engineering structures, material and aesthetic choices and lightness effect each other?â€?. The goal is to find a relationship among each of these components of design. So, an aesthetic choice, which is a concept that changes by definition and decision, could convey one concept to another. This continues a design process that is framed by the decisions of a visual concept.
4. OUTLINE OF THESIS
As both theoretical and prototyping research methodology are utilized in this study, the entire thesis is divided into two parts, the theoretical and production parts. The theoretical part outlined as three topics, structure, material and aesthetic choices. A theoretical research, which includes several philosophical approaches, analysis of principles, and historical review, is conducted to define concepts that are applied on the overall study. The structure chapter contains the study of engineering structures, especially the space frame, is serves the purpose of extracting the structural benefits of engineering structures. At the same time, its aesthetic possibility is considered, in order to utilize it as an inspiration source. The material chapter documents the influence of material on form and conceptual design. Through this, an attitude that applies to the physical design will be discovered. The following chapter indicates the aesthetic decisions that would apply to the prototype, and define its terms and concepts. It is conveyed from consequence of structural and material decisions. The production part is a comprehensive study based on theories that are previously explored. This part is consists of practical research, which can be defined as the prototyping process. Its purpose is not only to visualize the theory through tangible objects, but also to discover the practical flaws whilst prototyping. This part consists of several items of furniture, a metal frame application of dining chair, lounge chair, dining table, coffee table, and stool. Through developing a series, variation of form, proportion, material, and finishing will be researched.
ABOUT THEORETICAL RESEARCH PART Structure, materials, and aesthetic decisions are closely linked together and effect each other in the design process. The prototyping process is an iterative one that involves a gradual refining through experimentation. When a structural solution is decided, a natural aesthetic is also found and is given to the final prototype. This structural aesthetic reduces the selection of material possibilities. This is because there are obviously suitable materials that match the structural choices. Once the material is decided, again it effects the aesthetic quality of the piece and so further structural modification may be needed based on the characteristic of this material. While modifying the structure, not only both the structural and material aesthetic are considered, but also subjective decisions based on intuition should also be made.
CHAPTER 1 STRUCTURE
Structure is good source of inspiration because it has its own aesthetic qualities that differ from artistic ones. When structure is used as inspiration source, it has to be with the attitude of representation, rather than that of copying. To achieve it, it is necessary to see the structure for its aesthetic qualities, like the morphologists and formalists did. However, it is also needed to see the technical aspect too, because of the distinctive aspects of structure that differ from organic forms. Amongst different types of structures, space frames are especially suitable for development, because of its repetitive structure and simple appearance. There are already some examples of space frames in furniture, which display different possibilities, and guide future possibilities for developing this project.
1.1. ENGINEERING AND DESIGN
1.1.1. STRUCTURAL ART Structural engineering, which deals with load resistance to built physical structure that relates to the item’s purpose or safety, has influenced old and new artists and designers alike. The history of structural engineering begins with the pyramids at Giza, built in the 26th Century BC, however significant advances in structural engineering really began in the 19th and continuing into the 20th Century1, know as the machine age, featuring strong functionalism influences. During this era, designers, architects and engineers developed a new aesthetic, a departure from the Art Nuevo, through a change in the theoretical values towards the technological advances of the industrial revolution. The German historian and sociologist Jürgen Hebermas defined this change as ‘modern’ stating that ‘the term reappears whenever society seeks to see itself as moving from the old to the new2’. Engineers, architects and designers sought change through a new ideology called Functionalism, and the Russian contingent through Constructivism. The basis of Functionalism is that an object should be fit for its purpose, and should express structure and materiality itself (George 1990)3. Based on this new ideology, efficient ways of using materials, being economical with structure, and creating lightweight objects were key to solving the engineering problems of the time. Engineering was developed, not only at the scale of built structures such as skyscrapers or bridges, but also through new analytical and numerical tools, new structural concepts, new materials, new construction techniques, and even new sub-disciplines within the boundaries of practicality and economics4. In the light of new construction techniques and materials, there was an increasing interest in taller buildings and in aeronautics, areas in which a greater strength-to-weight ratio is paramount. Examples of this innovation incude the first motorized flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 (fig.1), the construction of the Eiffel Tower by Gustave Eiffel in 1889 in Paris, France and the construction of the Chrysler building(fig.2) by architect William Van Allen in 1930 in New York City, USA. In 1855, a process to refine and strengthen ‘Pig Iron’ (raw iron) and turn it into steel was presented by
Henry Bessemer, allowing buildings such as the Chrysler building to soar to a height of 1,046 ft. In 1900 Alexander Graham Bell has created one of the first space frame prototypes in a kite structure (fig.3), a design that was further developed by Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s. The benefits of camber*, in contrast to symmetric airfoils, was discovered and first utilized by Sir George Cayley in the early 19th century5. At the same time, new structures were appearing, such as tensile structures, space frame structures, tensegrity structures, and so on. The strongest feature of these structures was the minimum usage of materials, and an emphasis on efficiency. This coincides with the modern philosophy of engineering to build the physical world for a modern life, one that supports the machine and workers, who were prepared to live a different life from their parents in the as new postwar generation. Amongst all these engineering developments, a new norm for aesthetics was born. When an object is grounded on its functional purpose and based on physical laws, a technical character and its own appearance arise naturally. Christian Menn, a Swiss engineer, eluded to this, mentioning, ‘how a deep understanding of arches, pre-stressing, and cable-stayed forms can lead to structure worthy of exhibition in an art museum’6. His point of view is one of the examples of how engineering structures have inherent aesthetic. This aesthetic, known as ’structure as art’, defined by Prof. David P. Billington is not only about elegance or the visual mass of architecture, but also about a strictness towards efficiency, aiming for the minimal usage of materials, resulting in less weight7. The concept of structural art began in the 18th century. As mentioned in the book The Tower and the Bridge (1983), great works of structural engineering design began with new technical accessibilities, computer aid engineering, and the development of new materials, such as steel and reinforced concrete8. Thus, structural aesthetics are different from artistic aesthetics. *Camber : a gradual slope down from the middle of a road to each edge, designed to make water to flow off it (from Cambridge Dictionary, 27 Dec. 2013)
Even if engineers design structures without an artistic attitude, some of these objects are certainly beautiful. Hermann Muthesius claimed that; “The artistic discovery of the works of engineers, in which a particular form of beauty was suddenly found, the ‘beauty of purely useful form’ as it was called.” And continues with; “Beauty is a matter of form and nothing else9” Even if Muthesius claimed that beauty and function are separated, he agreed that engineering works can possess inherent beauty. The development of the form, responsible for this beauty, should therefore be explored. For the engineering works, especially of a structural nature, function and mathematical analysis drive the form. However, it is often hard to say that these are the only driving factors, as argued by Louis Sullivan in his words; “Form follows function”. Even though function or mathematical analysis has driven the design of the majority of the structural elements, such as thickness of members, structural angles and certain curvature, there are still many other aspects that engineers have explored and made decisions on.
Fig. 1 First flight of the Wright Flyer I (December 17, 1903) Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip
For example, if there are several safe and functional options for the curve radius of a particular element, an engineer has to choose only one among them. Then this decision involves an aesthetic evaluation, to achieve better harmony of the overall object. Therefore, it is possible to say that engineering objects are also designed with personal decisions and choices, resulting in aesthetic aspects of the process.
Fig. 2 Chrysler building by William Van Allen, 1930
Fig. 3 Alexander Graham Bell (lower center) displayed his tetrahedral kites in an adjacent room in the Armory. (Bell would eventually see his associate John McCurdy fly a tetrahedral wing aircraft is 1912.) Overhead is the gondola and engine from Alberto Santos-Dumontâ€™s Airship No. 9.
1.1.2. STRUCTURE AND INSPIRATION
STRUCTURE HAS BEAUTY IN IT Ivan Margolius (2002) mentioned involvement of art in engineering design thorough using a quote of Eduardo Torroja : “…Structural design is not only concerned with science, mathematics and technique, ‘ but also with art, common sense, sentiment, aptitude and enjoyment of the task of creating opportune outlines to which scientific calculation will add finishing touches’.10” As he pointed out, in designing a structure an artistic feature is involved in the process, despite the fact that structures are built based on purpose using specific techniques, rather than seeking only the aesthetic itself. However, it is also true that structure itself has inherent beauty, as is shown by the statements of Christian Menn, and David P. Billington. Furthermore it is possible to see structure in an entirely aesthetic point of view.
ATTITUDE TOWARD SOURCE OF INSPIRATION This reproduction does not come from a simple copying of the inspirational sources, rather through the interpretation and representation of them. In painting, even natural still life, cannot exist void of representation, because even ‘copying’ includes the selective point of view of the artist. Furthermore a painting has to include his representational resource to be meaningful11. The sculpture series ‘Bird in Space’ (L’Oiseau dans l’espace) by Constantin Brancusi is a good example of representation art. He concentrated on the movement of bird, instead of physical appearance of it. Though taking the general characteristic of birds, it could be more generalized, and representative. “There are idiots who define my work as abstract; yet what they call abstract is what is most realistic. What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things. (in French : Il y a des imbéciles qui définissent mon œuvre comme abstraite, pourtant ce qu’ils qualifient d’abstrait est ce qu’il y a de plus réaliste, ce qui est réel n’est pas l’apparence mais l’idée, l’essence des choses)”12
This is mainly an argument about what is deemed as ‘realistic’ in art work, but we can see through his point of view how the attitude of seeking the idea, the essence of things can result in a different form. Cordon Graham defined representation as characteristic of an object, not the appearance itself13. Based on this, representation could be explained through the concept of reality in Brancussi’s work. This same logic would be valid when a structural object is as a depiction of its source, based on this logical theory, it would be impossible to make copy of the source. For example, if one bridge is built over a river, based on the design of another built over a valley, the difference of context requires modification of certain details, both big and small. Furthermore, when one structure is used as a inspirational source, the design will require modification and changes during the process of creating the resulting form. So, it is important to explore the essence (Brancusi), or seek the character (Gordon) of the structure and represent it in another form through reproducing, rather than copying it.
CONCENTRATION ON THE FROM OF STRUCTURE As both organic and man made objects have various aspects to consider, finding a core character is arduous. This means that the analysis of chaining and fixed elements in their context is required. Even though material plays an important role in the design, the selection of a suitable material is a flexible process depending on the purpose of the design. Structural connections are one of the most important aspects to study, but it varies significantly between different constructions. Decisions relating to colour are inherent in any aesthetic considerations. Comparing a structure to aspects of historic structures, the less changeable elements help determine a comprehensive image of the object. Even if there are differing opinions toward the function of an object, both Hermann Muthesius and Louis Sullivan emphasized the importance of from as possessing the aesthetic of the object. However, the meaning of form can vary depending on the context. Form can be a highly philosophical idea, for example, in the Plato’s ‘Theory of Forms’ objects are seen as theoretical abstracts rather than three dimensional geometry. In comparing these exceptional cases, the dictionary provides a universal and common, simple description. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines form as ‘the shape or appearance of something14’, and the Oxford English Dictionary as, ‘the visible shape or configuration of something15’. These definitions share the common aspects of appearance and visible, something we can see. Furthermore, Scottish financier and industrial engineer, Lancelot Law Whyte, claims a similar point of view. According to him, the meaning of
the word ‘form’ is structure, and also pattern, shape, configuration, organization, and a system of relations16. Form is related to external appearance, and even structure itself can be considered as form. Thus reproducing an engineering structure can begin with its form. As previously mentioned, representation is necessary. This means that a understanding of structural forms and the manner of their generalization is required. There are multiple possible studies that could be applied to solve this problem. One is through a morphological approach, and another is through the Formalism movement. These two studies concentrate on the pure form of objects. In order to generalize a form, a structural object can looked at with the attitude of morphology, which is the study of shapes, derived from ancient Greek. The term is used in biology as the scientific study of forms and structure of organisms and their specific structural features, and was initiated in a biological context by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), a German poet, novelist, playwright, and philosopher17. Even though morphology is a common study in the field of biology, it can also be related to other areas of study, such as linguistics, astronomy, archaeology, and even architecture and art aesthetics too. The common strain is Goethe’s idea that morphology produces generalizations about the combined logic of different element in the each context18. Therefore, even though morphology deals with various study fields, the basic concept of seeking general principles of organic objects remains. It sounds suitable to adapt this analysis to structural forms, however there is one significant challenge to adapting morphology into the study of man-made structures themselves. That challenge is that the form of natural and man-made things have very different level of complexity. The biologist Conrad Hal Waddington (1905-1975) mentioned these differences between organic forms and manmade ones in his article, The Character of Biological Form: “Most organic forms are build up from very many cells, each of which contains and it controlled by a whole host, several hundreds at least, or hereditary factors. Again, manmade mechanical forms, such as screws, cogs, propeller, are usually designed to serve one single function, or at least two or three, and their unity is correspondingly blatant and single-minded. … Organic forms is, then, the result of the interaction of many different forces.19 “
Structures that have been designed by engineers have already been filtered by their representation, and their complexity simplified through imagination, or mathematical formulas. Jonathan Olivares, who wrote the book about office chairs based on the taxonomy methodology, has also recognized the difference between organic objects and man-made products:“Unlikely plants and animals that evolve slowly over thousands of years, products are subject to frequent and spontaneous mutations at the hands of their designers.20 ” In light of these differences, another form of analysis is needed alongside morphology in order to represent structural form. To understand man-made forms and their representation, Formalism in the study of art can be researched. Formalists concentrate on form and style separated from historical and social context, so this concept explores an object’s purely visual aspects. With this point of view, it is good to analyze the form of structure without considering the function or any other context, and furthermore it gives us a chance to interpret a structure entirely as an art piece. Clive Bell, an art critic, and known as one of the most prominent proponents of formalism, claimed the importance of visual aspects in his book Art (1914): In each, lines and colours combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions. These relations and combinations of lines and colours, these aesthetically moving forms, I call “Significant Form” And he continues; “Significant Form” is the one of the qualities common to all works of visual art21. However, the biggest difference between form in this paper, and form in formalism is an attitude toward representation. Even if Clive’s argument differs slightly from the argument of this paper, it is important that he has considered the form itself, for him line and colour. To him capturing the significant form was more important than representational art. However, identifying form is not the only element in the design process. It is also important to study the historical background, the realities of production (such as technical limitations), and the expression or statement of the designer or artist. Thus, formalism alone is also not an ideal approach for understanding structural objects, however, it shows the possibility and importance of primary forms; cubes, cones, spheres, cylinders, or pyramids. A structural object presents many different aspects. So morphology lets us define generalizations in the diversity of structural form. Furthermore it would be possible to find the characteristic of a structural through the approach of formalism, which treats the object in purely visual aspects. As a combination of these methods, general aspects of structural objects can be explained as primary forms.
TECHNICAL ASPECTS TO STRUCTURAL FORMS When compared to natural objects, man-made objects are simple in a variety of aspects, such as form, colour, movement, time, matter, etc. When considering an engineering structure, there are many unique aspects, such as the mathematical basis, connections, synthetic materials, etc. It is natural to the understanding of engineering structures to considered other aspects alongside the combination of morphology, and formalist attitudes. Functioning structures have to follow rules of practicality, mathematics and physics, since it is not designed for pleasure and its form is not conceived as visual art or as a communication tool of media art. Technical and functional aspects, therefore should also be considered in the representation process. Architecture shows us the importance of well-balanced technical and aesthetic aspects in design. Even if a building is aesthetically beautiful, it is not enough to consider this without also considering its function as a building. This is because an objectâ€™s function is not determined by its form alone. Thus both form and technical aspects have to be concerning as an inspirational resource. This is especially important when considering an engineering structure as a point of inspiration as its purpose and basic form cannot be ignored. This aspect causes some limitations, the first being form. Even though the focus of this paper is less complicated than typical engineering structures, it has same base requirement- function. From this fulfillment, all the possible decisions of formation are determined by the basic function of not collapsing and not loosing the strong characteristic of the original structure. Material is restricted by purpose and rules. Material decision is strongly dependent on the structural characteristics, because material is the core element that comprises the structure.
BLENDING TOGETHER Form could be explained as personal decisions, and function could be explained as rational experiences. Theses two considerations are embedded in engineering and furniture design, making it suitable for reproducing the structures in building furniture. Just as bridges built using the same structure never look the same, furniture can be built in different forms. Furniture is on the border of free and dependent beauty that Kant mentioned. Dependency of furniture would be the function of it, sit-able for a chair, work-able for a table, storable for cupboards, and so on.
On the other hand, the free of furniture can be the imagination and independent selection by the designer, and this is similarly true when referring to sculptural art. In this context a bridge among architecture is like a chair among furniture. A bridge is a special kind of architecture, since it has no function except the connection between places. After achieving this purpose, the rest of the bridge design is free to express its own character. This freedom of a bridge lies in the structure itself bringing beauty to it 22.
1. Bright Hub Engineering (n.d). Essentials Of Structural Engineering. Retrieved July 11, 2013, from: http://www.brighthubengineering.com/structural-engineering/43152-essentials-of-structural-engineering/ 2. Peter Dormer (1987). The New Furniture. London, United Kingdoms: Thames and Hudson, p. 8 3. George H. Marcus (1990). Functionalist Design. New York, United States : Pretel, 1990, p. 9 4. Jose M. Roësset, Hon.M.ASCE, and James T.P. Yao, Hon.M.ASCE (n.d.). Journal of Structural Engineering. State of the Art of Structural Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineering 150th Anniversary Paper, 966. 5. Desktop Aerodynamics Digital Textbook (n.d). Airfoil Geometry. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://www.desktop.aero/appliedaero/ airfoils1/airfoilgeometry.html 6. Karl-Eugen Kurrer, Werner Lorenz / Volker Wetzk (2009, May). The Engineer’s Aesthetics – Interrelations between Structural Engineering, Architecture and Art. Proceeding of the Third International Congress on Construction History, Cottbus. chapter : DEMONSTRATING TECHNICALITY 7. Weingardt, R. G (2006 September). Creator of the “Structural Art” Vernacular - David P. Bilington. STRUCTURE magazine, pg. 54. 8. David P.Billington (1985). The Tower and the Bridge: The New Art of Structural Engineering. New Jersey : Princeton University Press. 9. Hermann Muthesius, “Zweck und Schönheit,” Der Kunstfreund. Zeitschrift der Vereinigung der Kunstfreunde, Berlin, November 1913, pp. 33-37. Quotation from p. 34. 10. Ivan Margolius (2002). Architects + Engineer = Structure, London, United Kingdoms : Wiley-Academy. p. 18 11. Gordon Graham (2005), Philosophy of The Arts (3rd edition), New York, USA : Routledge. P. 105 12. Bird in Space (1931), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA : MOMA. 13. Gordon Graham (2005), Philosophy of The Arts (3rd edition), New York, USA : Routledge. p. 106 14. Cambridge Dictionary Online. From. Retrieved Dec 29, 2013. From http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/form_4 15. Oxford Dictionary Online. Form. Retrieved Dec 29, 2013. From http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/form?q=form 16. Lancelot Law Whyte (1968). Aspect of Form. London, UK: Lund Humphries. p. 2 17. Mark Aronaff and Kirsten Fudeman (2010). What is Morphosis? (2nd edition). Black Well. p. 1 18. Gunther J. Eble (2000). Theoretical Morphology : State of Art. Santa Fe, USA : Santa Fe Institute. p. 3 19. Waddington, C. H. (1968). The Character of Biological Form (2nd ed.). London, UK: Lund Humphries. p. 45-46 20. Jonathan Olivares (2011), A Taxonomy of Office Chairs. London, UK: Phaidon. p. 11 21. Clive Bell (1914). Art (7th edition). New York, USA : Book Jungle p.17-18 22. Ivan Margolius (2002). Architects + Engineer = Structure, London, United Kingdoms : Wiley-Academy, p. 17
1.2. SPACE FRAME
1.2.1. SPACE FRAME FOR FURNITURE A specific method is applied on each of the structural elements, such as beams, trusses, columns, arches, or catenary. Each mechanism determines a distinctive character and gives context to the structure. A tensile element, which uses membrane structures and cables, is commonly found when spanning large distances, carrying only tension without compression. This structure is commonly used for stadiums or outdoor shading structures. In such forms a dynamic characteristic comes from the sharpness of the edges of high-tensioned cables. Skylon tower (fig.4) at the Festival of Britain used a tensegrity structure, which is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension, giving a strong feeling of floating, giving the structure a surrealistic character. Based on strong geometric shapes, the space frame gives an open form with a stable but lightweight characteristic. This structure can be seen in various places, since space frames are simple to fabricate with at a low cost and weight. This frequency of use and stable characteristic causes an impression ordinary and passive, when compared to other structures. This generic characteristic, however, is translated into proven structures in aspects of economics and strength. It could also be extended to a possibility of diverse modifications based on proven theories. The simple characteristic of space frames might easily lead to adding extra decoration of ornament on final designs. Yet two space frame tower designs show us that it is not necessary. Wardenclyffe Tower (1901â€“1917) (fig.6), which is the first transmission tower in the world by Nikola Tesla who was electrical engineer and the Arcelor Mittal Orbit sculpture and observation tower (2012) (fig.6) by Anish Kapoor, sculptor, have totally different aesthetics based on the same space frame structure. Wardenclyffe tower exhibits balance and an understandable outcome, and Anish Kapporâ€™s tower has dynamic and complex result. Thus, from one structural element a variety of designs can arise, not only a variety of aesthetic value, but also of function, as shown in these two examples.
Fig. 4 Skylon tower at Festival of Britain, 1951
Fig.5 Wardenclyffe Tower, 1901â€“1917 The first transmission tower in the world), RCA high power radio tower at Rocky Point
Fig.6 The Arcelor Mittal Orbit sculpture and observation tower At the London 2012 Olympic Park. Designed by Anish Kapoor with Cecil Balmond
1.2.2. CONCEPT OF SPACE FRAME In a broad terms, any three dimensional structure can be a space frame23. In a more restricted sense, however, the basic space frame structure is a system that consists of interlocking tetrahedron and square pyramids in a horizontal slab24. Furthermore, each element in the network functions as a load carrying mechanism. It is the major characteristic of space frame that the load spreads in the opposite to that of ordinary structures, which exhibit a linear transfer of loads25. The layers of each member could be an array of single, double, or multiple of intersections. Through this characteristic of layers, the concept of space frames is synonymous with latticed structures26, especially in engineering. To be more precise, quoting a definition of the space frame from the International Association on Shell and Spatial Structure : Space frame is a structure system of assembled linear elements so arranged that forces are transferred in a three-dimensional manner. In some cases, the constituent element may be two-dimensional. Macroscopically a space frame often takes often takes the form of a flat or curved surface27.
Fig.7 Pyramid and Tetrahedron
Even though there are several ways to define space frames, parameters that are related to functional matter are applied in any case. Two fixed considerations, depth, which is the distance between top and bottom layer, and module, which is the distance between two joints, play important roles, especially in the economy of roof designs. These are related to the allowable angle that should be less than 60 and greater than 30 degrees. This is because angles larger than 60 degrees result in the density of the interlocking becoming too high, and angles less than 30 degrees result in excess force in each element.
To design a smaller scale product, the basic characteristic of space frames, emphasizing its strong appearance is more important to consider than theoretical restrictions. To be specific, tetrahedrons and square pyramids that are build with linear material could be spotted as a distinct characteristic. And so the space frame is defined, in this paper, as a â€˜three dimensional structure that is made of linear material in tetrahedral and pyramid form to resist forcesâ€™. It is not restricted by any specific engineering conditions in order to open the possibilities toward modification and representation.
1.2.3. ADVANTAGE OF SPACE FRAME Understanding properties of the space frame is significant in order to build another object based on it. Since not only the visual characteristic, but also its physical traits should be applied to it. Each element of a space frames are fully participating in the structural form, based on its three dimensional sequence. This gives a prominent advantage to the structures, through the relationship between weight and rigidity. Space frames are one of the lightest weight structure among other industrialized construction systems. In spite of this lightness, however, space frames have sufficient rigidity, which can support large loads. This availability of endurance makes it possible to build a large a scale construction with inner empty space. So space frames are commonly used as trusses for a large roof 28. Another property of space frames is the versatility based on a standard size and shape to build an industrialized system. A standard structure consists of modules that can be applied as various shapes. For instance, it is possible to change architecture, through changing details, such as the positioning of columns, layers and curvature variations, to the overall application of a final shape and form. Moreover there are extensive possibilities of such modifications. As it is previously mentioned space frames are commonly made of tetrahedral forms. Thus a final structure could be of any shape, as long as it is composed of this core form.
1.2.4. VARIATION OF SPACE FRAME ARCHITECTURE, PRODUCT, AND ARTS Space frame structures are both inspirational or directly applicable to architects and designers. In 1945, German architect Konras Wachsmann developed aircraft hangar (fig.9) for the American Airforce, and this has to be “a very large columm-free space”. The one task he had to achieve was to design a collapsable hangar without wasting any materials, so that it can be reusable29. A space grid system that was made from four standard elements was used to meet the required conditions. Comparing to traditional aircraft hangars, Beaubourg’s project (fig.8) took the space frame as an inspirational source, and modified it to fit another context. There was a vital engineering problem to be solved for Beaudourg’s project to succeed, and that was to support a heavy library with a large 44.8- span. It was solved with using cast steel, and this was inspired by the space frame structure designed by Kenzo Tange and professor Tsuboi for 1970 World Fair. This use of cast steel not only became the main structure of the building, but also the key characteristic of it30.
Fig. 8 Beaubourg project, 1977
Fig. 9 Aircraft Hangar by Konras Wachsmann, 1945
Space frame structures are not only used at the big scale, but also in a smaller pieces such as furniture. Roy Fleetwood adapted the technique of space frame in 1988 in the bottom of seat section of his Wing sofa (fig.10) 31. As the structure is made of miniaturized common trusses, the space frame in his chair has the appearance of the span of a bridge. Italian designer, Paolo Piva, interpreted space frame in his own language through talking the essence of space frames. His coffee table, Alanda Table in 1980 (fig.11), is collected of four upside down square pyramids. Even it is not tetrahedron, the matter of pressure on leg frame is effective because the pressure is not delivered to the frame in the vertical direction, only diagonally through the members. Tom Dixon used a space frame in a sculptural way. His chair, Pylon in 1991 (fig.12), is constructed out of thin steel rods, and it emphasizes the advantage of this structure that can hold heavy loads with using compression forces. The form of the chair with an exaggeration of the backrest height and the headrest width makes itself more dramatic. Clemens Weissahaar and Reed Kram presented their design called Multithread in 2012 for Nilufar Gallery (fig.13), and this project is focused on the connections in Force-Driven Structures by using computer analysis. A whole series is made of a set of horizontal surfaces, which are designed as a table, shelf, and desk. The triangle is the main shape of the overall structure which in turn are combined to form the typical space frame module, a tetrahedron32.
(from left) Fig. 10 Wing sofa by Roy Fleetwood, 1988 Fig. 11 Alanda Table by Paolo Piva, 1980 Fig. 12 Pylon by Tom Dixon, 1991 Fig. 13 Multithread by Clemens Weissahaar and Reed Kram, 2012
23. Tien T. Lian (2005). Space Frame Structure–Handbook of Structural Engineering(2nd Edition). New York : CRC Press. pp.24-1 24. Slab : a thick, flat piece of a solid substance, such as stone, wood, metal, food, etc., that is usually square or rectangular (Cambridge Dictionary) 25. Tien T. Lian (2005). Space Frame Structure – Handbook of Structural Engineering (2nd Edition). New York : CRC Press.pp.24-3 26. Latticed Structure : a structure made from strips of wood or other material that cross over each other with spaces between (Cambridge) 27. IASS (International Association for Shell and Spatial Structure) Working Group on Spatial Steel Structure (1984). Analysis, design and realization of space frame. Bull. IASS No. 84/85, XXV (1/2): 1-114 28. B.Currie, R.A.Sharpe (1990). Structural Design. UK : Stanley Tornes. pp.70-86 29. dpr-barcelona. Konrad Wachsmann. Retried 5th Oct. 2013. from : http://dprbcn.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/konrad-wachsmann/ 30. Peter Rice (1996). An Engineer Imagines. London, UK : Ellipsis. pp. 28-30 31. Charlotte and Peter Fiell(1997). 1000 Chairs. Koln. Germay : Taschen. p.522 32. Design Playgrounds. Multitread by Kram/Weisshaar. Retrieved 6th Oct 2013 : http://designplaygrounds.com/deviants/multithread-by-kramweisshaar/
CHAPTER 2 MATERIAL
As material limits the construction method, it drives the creation of structure and form. Furthermore it defines the aesthetic, which causing from the neutrality of material itself to prototypes. This characteristic of the prototype is not decided by the designer, but from the material itself, so it can be explained honest aesthetic. However, the selections of materials, or treating methods of it has restriction by structure or the goal of the forms or looks.
â€œ No design is possible until the materials with which you design are completely understood â€? - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
2 . 1 . I N F L U E N C E O F M AT E R I A L
2.1.1. FROM MATERIAL TO FORM AND IDEA An important aspect of the representation of engineering structures in designing a final output is discussed in the previous chapter. However there are more complicated aspects involved in the process, such as material availability, connection suitability, safety, ergonomics, and so on. Theses aspects should all be considered in the overall design process, even if the main consideration is one of form. This process is necessary in order to balance each element, considering the design for functioning objects, not artistic ones. Material, amongst these different aspects, is closely related to form, and built structure.
FORM Paul Valéry, French poet and philosopher, stated in his ‘Regards Sur Le Monde’ in 1931, that material and form are the most subtle and powerful principles in the artistic field, which, in turn, allows us to better understand architectural design33. He noted that because material and form are so
Fig. 14 72 rue Charles Michels by François, 1853. Coignet, France
Fig. 15 Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, 1928
closely linked, it is hard to separate these two factors from the design process in most cases. Thus, material is not only important as a detail, but as part of the design itself. For example, if an object’s material is changed from paper to cotton, its overall design is certainly changed. This is because the characteristic of two materials are totally different. The relationship between form and material has been shown in various ways over a long period of time. The most vivid evidence can be seen in two commonly used materials, reinforced concrete and steel, developed during the modern design era. Emil Mörsch, a German engineer, discusses their importance in his book, Der Eisenbetonbau, Seine Theorie Und Anwendung (in English; Concrete-Steel Construction) in 1902, ‘The last century, however, has seen importance changes in the types of properties of these two materials34.’ Reinforced concrete, and steel, allowed us to achieve new structural forms, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, which at the time was the longest bridge using a suspended steel wire system, created by John A. Roebling in 1883. Material development has not only changed the height of buildings and length of bridges, but has also led to the creation of another language and style in
Fig. 16 Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe, 1929
Fig. 17 Tekne 3 by Ettore Sottsass, 1960
architectural design. Engineers and architects discovered the possibility of an aesthetic which differs significantly from Art Nuevo by using newly developed materials and construction techniques. It began as a four story house at 72 rue Charles Michels (fig.14) in the suburbs of Paris by Franรงois Coignet in 1853, and continues with diverse buildings and houses by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and other many architects(fig.15 and 16). The influences of material development occurred in a similar way with small scale products too. Ettore Sottsass used new techniques of cutting metal in his first electronic typewriter design, the Tekne 3 (fig.17) in 1960. It features sharp lines that expose the traits of the material treatment method36.
IDEA The invention of new materials could expand to new suitable ideas and new attitudes of design. An influential alteration of form and appearance of design comes from this newly born understanding of a material. Based on the new material usage and concepts surrounding it, architects and engineers started to build new types of buildings and structures. In late ninetieth century, Buckminster Fuller started to apply steel into his building designs. This was a result of his awareness of how tension and compression behave in steel, and the new structural possibilities because of this37.
LIMITATION To build one object, however, various elements are involved, each effecting one another. These elements result in freedom, at the same time as limiting one another. So, when material development has a significant impact on physical and nonphysical design processes, such as the modification of form, and birth of a new idea, material has the power to change to design as a whole. At the same time, however, other elements in the design could limit the possibilities. Thus, the chosen material effects the form and visual aspect of the object, because every material delivers its own properties to the form of design. For example, some of materials are suitable to express as a large surface, whilst others are better suited to dealing with linear loads. In a similar way, structural form limits the material choice, because for every construction method there is a limited suitable material range38. As engineering structures are needed to fulfill a functional purpose, the variation of form is restricted (chapter 2.1.2), which in turn influences the selection of materials.
2.1.2. HONESTY, AND AESTHETICS As is mentioned previously, material selection and usage are related to the overall attitude of prototyping decisions. Thus, when a material’s characteristic is fully understood, the material itself will define the form and structure of a design object. This can be described as honesty of material, which can be traced back to Adolf Loos’ essay ‘Ornament and Crime’. He refused the use of ornament through understanding inherent material traits, and the methods of treating them. When ornament becomes dominant in design, it easily overwhelms other natural aspects, such as material texture, the shape of objects, and proper proportions. Also, in many cases, ornamental objects follow a particular style, leading to a shorter lifespan than expected, comparing to the one that does not belonging to a certain trend. Furthermore, ornament is often used to mimic another object, or characteristic thereof, rather than exploiting the natural form of a material or object. Herbert Read, an English critic of literature and art, states that the nature of material and its characteristics derived from the process of working a material, will result in its own natural and often surprising ornamentation (Art and Industry, 1934)39. Even though the idea of material honesty seems very easy to achieve and naive, it is in fact a difficult process of careful analysis and craftsmanship. Construction flaws, for example, are easily concealed with ornaments or decorations. Read denied ornamentation in his catalog of ‘Modern Architecture, The International Exhibition’, also declaring the characteristic of the new modernist architecture through promoting the importance of material honesty: “Depends upon technically perfect use of material weather metal, wood, glass, or concrete ; upon the finesse of proportion in units such as door and windows and in the relationship between these units and the whole design. The negative obverse aspect of this principle is the elimination of any kind of ornament or artificial pattern. This lack of ornament is one of the most difficult element of the style for the layman to accept.40” So we can see that ornaments and decorations are unnecessary to use to make the product beautiful, if the material is properly adapted to the object. This also applies to structural design. Perret said, “Decoration always hides an error in construction41”. When a structure is perfect enough, there is no need for decoration, or ornaments, because structure has its own inherent beauty. This is why honesty of material and structure is often mentioned in architectural design.
However, using certain materials without ornament could also be seen as a failure to properly analyze a particular material. It could be that without ornament a particular material may closely resemble another, since honesty of material does not only refer to the absence of ornament. Since each material has its own character, it is enough to express it through fully understanding the material rather than relying on out of context input. Even Paul Jacques Grillo argued strongly on this in his book, ‘The worst mistakes in design are accomplished by using a material in forms that belong to another material’42 This is explained well with the word ‘cheating’, which is mentioned by Nigel Whiteley in his description of the ‘truth of material43’. Thus, material honesty is about expressing material characteristics in the form, through deep understanding and without simulating other materials. This attitude began with modernist design, and it was a departure from the Art Nuevo. The attitude that expressing and using the material as it is meant to be rather than treating it it as a substitute was more preferred during the 19th and 20th century. For example, Robert Maillart (1872– 1940), a Swiss structural engineer, made reinforced concrete using its specific qualities instead of using it as a replacement of stones to construct the Salginatobel Bridge (fig.18) in Switzerland in 193044. His bridge is declared as an sophisticated and greatly elegant construction. It was an obvious change from traditional concrete arches, which were conceived using the ancient tradition of stonework45. The methods of treating material were changed not only in the engineering field, but also in architecture. After Le Corbusier met and worked for Auguste Perret (fig.19), who was a master of reinforced concrete construction, he adapted a new material in his building design through an understanding of the characteristic therein. His typically used béton brut, a roughly finished exposed concrete, which became a modern design icon. Through the understanding of the traits of this material, he created a new form. A possibly negative impact of emphasizing the inherent material characters without ornament is that all the objects can tend to a similar form or at least a similar one with tedious differences. Even though two pieces of architecture, however, use the same materials, their final realization may be different in form, aesthetics, and feeling. The buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright and by Le Corbusier show different ways of treatmenting similar materials distinctly. Wright preferred unfinished surfaces to merge the building within its natural context. On the other hand, Le Corbusier tried to make his building look as man-made as possible46. In this sense, The method of material usage defines the direction of the aesthetic attitude of designers.
Fig. 18 Salginatobel Bridge by Robert Maillart, 1930. Switzerland
Fig. 19 Théâtre des Champs-Élysées by Auguste Perret, 1913. Paris, France
33. Paul Valéry (1931). Regards Sur Le Monde Actuel / Jacques Grillo (1975), Form, Function & Design. New York : Dover publications. pp. 50 34. Jose M. Roësset, Hon.M.ASCE, and James T.P. Yao, Hon.M.ASCE, State of the Art of Structural Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers 150th Anniversary Paper, Retrieved Jul, 12, 2013, pp. 969 35. Encyclopædia Britannica. François Coignet. Retrieved July 18, 2013. from: http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/124672/ Francois-Coignet 36. Jan Burney (1991). Ettore Sottsass. London, UK : Trefoil Publications. pp. 91 37. Ivan Margolius (2002). Architects + Engineer = Structure, London, United Kingdoms : Wiley-Academy. pp. 18 38. Ivan Margolius (2002). Architects + Engineer = Structure, London, United Kingdoms : Wiley-Academy. pp. 13 39. Paul Jacques Grillo (1975). Form Function & Design. New York, USA : Dover publications. pp.35 40. Christopher Wilk, Marchel Breuer : Furniture and Interior, The Architectural Press, London, UK, 1981, pp. 11 / Hitchcock, Johnson, “Historical Note,” in Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr., Philip Johnson, et al., Modern Architecture, International Exhibition, New York : MOMA. 1931. pp. 14-15 41. Peter Blake (1960), Le Corbusier : Architecture and Form, Victoria, USA : A Pelican Book. pp.22 42. Paul Jacques Grillo (1975). Form Function & Design. New York, USA : Dover publications. pp.35 43. Nigel Whiteley (1993). Design for Society. London : Reaktion Books. pp.91 44. Karl-Eugen Kurrer, Werner Lorenz / Volker Wetzk (2009, May). The Engineer’s Aesthetics – Interrelations between Structural Engineering, Architecture and Art 41 Proceeding of the Third International Congress on Construction History, Cottbus. chapter : FLOW OF FORCES AND TRUTH TO THE MATERIAL 45. David P. Bilington (1990). Robert Mailiart and the Art of Reinforced Concrete. USA : MIT Press. pp. 2 46. Peter Blake (1960), Le Corbusier : Architecture and Form, Victoria, USA : A Pelican Book. pp. 66
2 . 2 . M E TA L A N D F U R N I T U R E
2.2.1. NEW LOOK FURNITURE WITH TUBULAR BENDING IN 20TH CENTURY STEEL FRAME AND DIFFERENT USES AND SOLUTIONS As this project began with the space frame, the material selection has been narrowed down to steel. Tubular steel is used as the principal material in the structure of space frame buildings. This comes from the high precision of steel components in industrial manufacturing47. It means that tubular steel has increased strength and lightness when compared to structures made of wood or other materials. it is also easy to reproduce to the same size and details. Thus tubular pipe is often used in architectural design as well as furniture. The usage, however, implies different attitudes, solutions, and divergences of form. This is a result of the different purposes of objects, their respective sizes. A certain consideration, which may be highly regarded in architecture, could be less important or even possible to ignore when looking at the design of small objects. A joint system, for example, has an important role in space frame construction, and effects the shape of the members, depending on the technique used, such as welding, bolting, or using special mechanical connectors48. Even though furniture may be built using the same structure, it is unnecessary to use the same joint system as in engineering construction.
FUNCTIONALIST MAINSTREAM AND METAL USAGE Though architectural design and furniture design involve very different considerations, they are premised by similar ideas, and share equivalent languages of form in the modern design era. A significant effect on both fields during the 20th Century was functionalism, which had already begun to make waves by 1900, requiring a new form and new language. This was evident in the Arts and Craft movement, which aimed to create large scale manufacturing of low cost products for people from the late 19th Century. This continued with Art Nouveu, a trial of industrialization for everyday objects from 1895. Richard Riemerschmid, a German architect, achieved a design for a chair that is practical, light, and simple, and so he made an impact as a pioneer in the functionalist mainstream49. However, his design still belonged to the Art Nouveau movement, mainly because of the materials used, the presence of decoration, and also the construction method, which was also used commonly in Arts and Craft movement.
Based on early modernist ideas, and the development of manufacturing techniques, metal furniture was introduced in the early 20th century. Furthermore, it continued and took the mainstream in the mid 20th century. Since most of the furniture of these eras was built using machines, aimed towards mass production, metal was one of most suitable materials.
Fig. 20 Cadeira para sala de mĂşsica (music room chair) by Richard Riemerschmid, 1898/99
THE BIRTH OF METAL FURNITURE BY BREUER Furniture was built using various types of metal, such as steel pipe, cast aluminum, bent solid metal, and so on. Among these diverse materials, bent tubular metal, that was commonly used from the early 1900, brought the biggest impact on modernist furniture. The first tubular furniture began with the Wassily chair, which was built using a steel frame, by Marchel Breuer in 192550. After his armchair has shown in the Weissenhof exhibition in Stuttgart in 1945, a large amount of metal furniture was designed over the following two years51. As it is shown, it was not a small movement led by Breuer or Bauhaus designers52. Instead it was as a significant turning point in twentieth-century furniture production and the starting point of an important branch of the industry53 with an immediate impact in the visual aspect and also a reflection of modern society. Tubular pipe furniture reflected the ideal of functionalism, offered the opportunity for mass production54, reflected modern life style, and addressed a new form of design. These new opportunities attracted many designers to build metal furniture, and it became a very important period in design.
Fig. 21 B3 (Wassily chair) by Marcel Breuer, 1925
AESTHETIC OF METAL FURNITURE Metal inspired many designers in terms of both technical aspect and also the aesthetic side. It gave a new looks to design when compared to traditional furniture design, which was largely handcrafted and made of wood. Metal furniture was strong, light, easy to manufacturing at a low cost, and simple without ornaments. Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999), a French architect and designer, built metal chairs herself and alongside Le Corbusier. Metal brought new condition to furniture. And she mentioned, about Le Corbusier’s ‘Chaise Longue’, in an article ‘Wood or metal’ published in 1929: “Metal plays the same part in furniture as cement has done in architecture. ‘IT IS REVOLUTION’.55” She illustrated that metal in chair design was like a new material in architectural design that had changed the aesthetics of buildings, it replaced a previous norm in the furniture design.
Fig. 22 Charlotte Perriand on LC4 Chaise lounge chair by in collaboration with Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand
NEW FORM The visual aspect of architectural construction changed with new material use, such as the change from stone to concrete. In the same way metal changed the visual aspect of furniture design with its high flexibility and rigidity. Because of the strong tension withstanding characteristic of tubular pipe, Mies van der Rohe could remove the back legs of his MR 10 chair. Through elimination of the backrest, the chair floats on the air in visually, and it does physically too. This totally changed the concept of the basic elements of furniture design. Furthermore his chair has a twist in the relationship between visual form and physical comfort; it was as comfortable as a stuffed armchair without the same visual relationship.
Fig. 23 MR 10 Chair by Mies van der Rohe, 1927
NEW LIFE STYLE (MACHINE AGE) Even though buildings and furniture made of steel were beloved by modern architects and designers, it might have been impossible to become mainstream without the spirit of the age of the 20th century. It was a response to the machine age in both sides of life style, and industrial production methods. The dramatic development of machines naturally embodied a new life style to the general people. And it allowed people to be comfortable with mechanical looking products. They wanted to have different surroundings than their parents. Seeing as it looked new, and not only as being made by machine, but also it looked made of machine56, steel furniture was suitable for fulfill their needs. So, metal furniture was blended into modern society, becoming an apparatus of contemporary life57. Marcel Breuer mentioned in an essay published in 1928, â€˜I purposely chose metal for this furniture in order to achieve the characteristics of modern space elements.58â€™
Fig. 24 More Leisure for Men in The Automatic Age by L. Warrington Chubb. Modern Mechanics and Inventions for Jun, 1931
2.2.2. FURNITURE MADE OF STEEL ROD Compared to tubular steel, steel rod was not so common in mainstream modern design. This could have been because of the fact that the strength of tubular pipe had a more significant impact on the construction of furniture. Also tubular pipe could be built to a visually simple form, and was easy to manufacture. Thin rod is easier to deform than the hollow tube, at the same mass. This fact makes building furniture from metal rod not only more complicated looking, but also harder to mass produce. Thus, the properties of tubular pipe allowed designers to build structures with less elements than with metal rod, whilst supporting the same load. Metal rod needed to built using a different method in order to achieve enough strength. There has to be more bending and more welding or bolting, and this was against the aims of functionalist design. The resulting aesthetic of steel rod design was also very different. A pipe allows for designing furniture using simple lines, such as horizontal or vertical, allowing for more visually organized design. A thin solid rod, however, needs diagonal lines in order to achieve enough strength. So, pipe and rod have different basic needs in construction, naturally leading to a different visual result. Tubular steel can be only be used to create the furnitureâ€™s frame, whereas steel rod can be used as a frame as well as the surface itself for seating. This is possible because of availability of relatively smaller radius components. It can, therefore, even be shaped as a shell based on human ergonomics. The DKR chair, which was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1951, is a good example of how rod can be a supportable structure, at the same time giving a comfortable shape without losing rigidity. The base of the chair, which shares a similar aesthetic to the Eiffel tower, can cope with the high pressure, by using diagonal lines that cross the each ends of the frame. Also the seat, which duplicated the shape of the S-Shell (designed using pressed sheet steel or fiberglass technology), has an organic shape created with welded wire59. These two parts express different visual languages, using the same material; the shell emphasizes curvature and folded space, on the other hand the base looks sharp and is spread in form.
Fig. 25 DKR-2 by Charles and Ray Eames, 1951-7
47. Ingemar Saevfors (August 23. 2012). Bamboo space frame structures. Retrieved Aug 28, 2013. From http://www.saevfors.se/ 48. Tien T. Lan (2005). Space Frame Structures, Handbook of Structure Engineering (2nd edition). New York, USA : CRC Press. pp. 24-35 49. Edward Kucie-Smith (1979). Furniture: A Concise History : World of Art. New York, USA :Thames & Hudson. pp. 176 50. Gilbert Frey (1970). The Modern Chair : 1850 to Today. Switzerland : Teufen. pp.74 51. George H. Marcus (1990). Functionalist Design â€“ An ongoing History. New York, USA : Prestel. p.95 52. Karl Mang (1978). History of Medoern Furniture. London, UK : Academy edition. pp. 110 53. B3, Wassily, Marcel Bruer. Vitra Museum. Retrieved from http://www.design-museum.de/en/collection/100-masterpieces/detailseiten/b3wassily-marcel-breuer.html 54. Karl Mang (1978). History of Medoern Furniture. London, UK : Academy edition. pp. 110 55. Phillippe Garner (1980), Twentieth-century Furniture. London, UK : Phaidon Press. pp. 107 56. Christopher Wilk (1981). Marchel Breuer : Furniture and Interior. London, UK : The Architecture Press London. pp. 11 57. George H. Marcus (1990). Functionalist Design â€“ An ongoing History. New York, USA : Prestel. pp. 94 58. Edward Kucie-Smith (1979). Furniture: A Concise History : World of Art. New York, USA :Thames & Hudson. pp. 177 59. DKR, Charles and Ray Eames. Vitra Museum. Retrieved from http://www.design-museum.de/en/collection/100-masterpieces/detailseiten/dkr-eames.html
CHAPTER 3 ASTHETIC DECISION
â€œA designer is a planner with an aesthetic senseâ€?
- Bruno Munari
3.1. POETRY IN OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE
If the material and form are a language to us, the aesthetic choice is a style of speech, such as an accent, positive, or negative attitude, or formal or informal style. A language has its own characteristics, and it determines the scope of the thoughts of a speaker who uses that language. Peter Gordon, a psychologist at Columbia University in New York City, claims that understanding a concept could be blocked by lacking the appropriate words of a language60. Language gives the speaker a restriction of thought, and likewise material and form to the designer. These restrictions come from their own characteristics and the rules that they commonly share. The selection of material and form can offer an objective manner. However, for each individual using the same language, there are changes in the attitude of expression within a different context based on their own repertoire. William Labov (born 1927), an American linguist, introduced the concept of style shifting, which is a conversion of speech style of various speakers in sociolinguistics. Accent and facial expressions make communication fruitful in speech. Just as with linguistics, a designer can truly deliver what he or she wants with imagination and decisions. Aesthetic choices can be various depending on designers, so it is highly subjective. Even so, imagination and decisions is more limited to designers than they are to painter, for example61. That is because design has to be functional, and also consider various aspects of purpose. Structure and material cannot rule the entire design process, even if material is treated with an honest attitude, and forms are decided by an engineering structure as a consequence of design. It is because creativity is involved in all design62, and this creativity comes from an imagination that could associate a given design as an object with new meaning. Thus designing an object should be done with a balance between objective, and subjective decisions. This is similar to the creation of poetry in which the words should respond to personal expression whilst using a language that people share and understand.
Material honesty has been previously discussed in this paper, and the selection of elements is set within a certain boundary because of this consideration. Using steel to build a space frame structure possess an aesthetic of lightness. Lightness, however, is a concept that is cognized differently in different contexts, so it is necessary to define what lightness is selectively used for this research. This question has more impact on the matter of structural, when the object is built using steel rod. Space frame structures already have the trait of minimizing material, which creates a visual lightness. Moreover, thin material has significantly different construction needs, when compared to other linear materials, such as wooden sticks or metal pipe. Space frames use diagonal lines to sustain rigidity, but it is possible to be adapted as an aesthetic choice rather than as necessity for the construction.
60. Cleste Biever . (19 August 2004). Language may shape human thought. Retrieved 12 Jan 2014, from http://www.newscientist.com/article 61. David Pye (1978). The Nature and Aesthetic of Design. London : Cambridge University Press. pp.11 62. Paul Jacques Grillo (1975). Form Function & Design. New York, USA : Dover publications. pp. 11
3.2. AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE
3.2.1. LIGHTNESS IN FURNITURE Lightness is related to visual mass and physical weight in furniture design, and these usually manifest in design together. This is, however, not always the case. An armchair, How High The Moon (1986) by Shiro Kuramata, for example, looks lighter than other conventional armchairs, because of the use of a metal net gives the effect visual lightness. This use of material also reduces its physical weight to 9.5 kilograms. The weight of this arm chair is almost a quarter of the weight of a conventional arm chair. On the other hand, Paper sofa, designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, is visually bulky but its weight itself is much lighter than any other arm chair. So, when lightness is discussed, it ought to be clarified.
Fig. 26 How high the moon by Shiro Kuramata, 1986
Fig. 27 Cloud papaer sofa by Tokujin Yoshioka, 2009
3.2.2. LIGHTNESS IN PHYSICAL WEIGHT The lightness of weight is clearer than that of the visual language, since it is easily measured and forms a common relationship with the mass of material. Making a lightweight structure is one of the biggest challenges faced by furniture designers. Both The Superleggera chair (1949) by Gio Ponti, and Pressed Chair (2011) that by Italian furniture designer, Henry Thaler, shared the same ambition of being extremely lightweight. Despite a gap of fifty-two years, the method of communicating this lightness was the same, as can been seen in fig. 28 and 29.
Fig. 28 The Superleggera chair by Gio Ponti, 1949
Though two designs share the same goal of being lightweight, it is attained through different solutions by the means of structure and material use. Gio Ponti derived his idea from the Chaiabari chair63, which was built in Chiavari, on the northwestern Italian coast, in 1807. The Chaiabari chair has a special lightness within its structural solutions, which considered specific stress reduce the number of specific parts. Henry Thaler achieved lightness through using 2.5 mm aluminum sheet64 that is a relatively light material. Through reducing the necessary parts, Gio Pontiâ€™s The Superleggera chair weighs only 1.7 kilograms, whilst, through cutting down on material usage, the weight of the Pressed Chair is 2.8 kilograms. Fig. 29 Pressed chair by Henry Thaler, 2011
3.2.3. LIGHTNESS AS A VISUAL ASPECT To achieve lightness one should be considering the physical aspects as well as visual characteristics. The visual lightness is associated with the concept of airiness, which gives an impression of emptiness, floating, or transparency. Those three impressions are closely allied to the absence and ignorance: emptiness is related to an absence of occupation, floating is connected to ignorance of gravity, and transparency is comprehending absence of substance. As visual lightness is not an absolute concept, it can be misleading depending on context. Dutch writer, Jan Wolker, mentioned airiness and transparency for Friso Kramerâ€™s chair65, despite the lack of glass or any other transparent material. His chair, however, gives an impression of floating, because of a large seating surface held by relevantly thin legs, and the converged meeting point of the legs.
Fig. 30 7800 series by Friso Kramer, 1958
Fig. 30 Verglas table by Piero Lissoni, 2013
This airiness could be achieved by making empty space, which comes from removal of unnecessary parts of a piece of furniture. Amongst different types of furniture, tables and chairs both require a certain amount of surface mass in order to be functional. In contrast, the thickness and shape of the rest of the elements have an absolute freedom. Thus this fact gives the possibility of furniture with a floating aesthetic, especially when the designer has decided to eliminate the unnecessary parts thus minimizing material use. Breuer’s furniture is a good example of this. His chairs achieved a visual lightness, through the appearance of floating in space, by using tubular steel66. Another way to have airiness is with furniture that gives an illusion of emptiness via use of a material with the trait of transparency. The Verglas table design by Piero Lissoni in 2013 is good example for this. It is made of 10 mm thick transparent tempered glass, and its leg structure is T-formed to hold a heavy top. It has a physically high weight, but the material, however, allows the users to see through and behind the object, and this transparency gives the table ‘volumetric presence’, at the same time ‘visual lightness’67. A visually light object can be easily regarded as weak or fragile, whereas one with a larger mass is often considered as strong. Mies van de Rohe stated that heaviness is not a synonyms with strength68. And as he claimed, lightness and strength are not directly associated concepts. Visual lightness is making an illusion of the furniture through material, construction methods, proportion and selection of compositions. In this sense, it can be compared to magic. Even thought a magician’s body has been cut in half in front of spectators, he is still whole, and the illusion merely gives the impression of that.
Fig. 32 Death Saw by David Copperfield, and its trick
3.2.4. LIGHTNESS AND THIN MATERIAL ‘Thin’ is defined as something having opposite surfaces or sides that are close or relatively close together’ in the Oxford English Dictionary69. Thus the concept of thin is related to thickness, with sheet or plank material, however, this can be explained with radius or dimension in linear materials, such as pipe, metal wire, or wooden bar or stick. Thickness is relevant concept. When thickness and diameter of a material tend to thinness until a certain point, they are not anymore recognized as mass, but as a line. This line gives us the feeling of fragility, bendable, or floating depending on the materials, and it certainly effects the visual aspect of the objects. Since building furniture is a physical activity there are certain limits of construction. An extremely thin material could give the sense of being almost invisible, and this aspect could give an ultimate sharp edge or a soft curve. However, making furniture out of a very thin material has to be solved by specific attention to structural construction, because a very thin line has a greater chance of collapsing and not functioning as intended. For example, each layer of Ripple table by Benjamin Hubert is only 0.8mm, but it supports a 2.5 metre by 1 metre table top. This is possible because the table top is constructed of three layers of corrugated aircraft plywood. The resulting weight of the table is only 9 kilograms, and the edge thickness of the table is just 2.5 millimetres70. The Cord chair, whose legs are only 15mm in diameter, created for Maruni by Japanese designer Nendo, is made of hollow wooden lengths with a metal fame hidden inside in order to give the chair sufficient strength. A space frame is consists of linear metallic structures. The resulting mass can be reduced to the bare minimum, since it can be calculated with high accuracy71. Also, metal has high flexibility allowing it to hold tension with the low possibility of distortion in various environments especially when compared to wood. Based on the structural requirements and material considerations, metal rod is a suitable material to express the feeling of lightness in a controllable condition. Thus the whole project is given the theme, ‘as thin as possible’.
Fig. 33 Ripple table by Benjamin Hubert, 2013
Fig. 34 Cord Chair by Nendo, 2009
63. Lorraine Dickey (2010). How To Design A Chair. New York, USA : Conran Octopus & The Design Museum. pp.51 64. Pressed Chair, Harry Thaler. Retrieved from http://www.harrythaler.it/pressed-chair/ 65. Yvonne Brentjens (2013). De Stoel van Friso Kramer. Rotterdam, Netherland : Barbera van Kooij. pp. 107 66. Christopher Wilk (1981). Marchel Breuer : Furniture and Interior. London, UK : The Architecture Press London. pp.45-46 67. Verglas Table. Luminaire, Retrieved from http://luminaire.com/m/#landing.html?t=p&i=139. Last Accessed 16 Aug 2013 68. Peter Carter (1999). Mies van der Rohe at Work. London, UK : Phaidon,. pp.55 69. Thin. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/thin?q=thinness#thin__46. Last Accessed 16 Aug 2013 70..Ripple table by Benjamin Hubert . Dezeen. Retrieved from http://www.dezeen.com/2013/09/16/ripple-lightest-table-in-the-world-bybenjamin-hubert/ 71. Paul Jacques Grillo (1975). Form Function & Design. New York, USA : Dover publications. pp.66
3.3. AS TRIANGULAR AS POSSIBLE
3.3.1. DIAGONAL An object built in thin material should by aided by structural support to resist pressure and tension. A diagonal line is commonly used for achieving rigid construction in design. Usually this element is not exposed in the appearance of a building or object, it is used as a constructional mechanism to enhance the strength of the hidden structure of any kind of form. For example, the façade of Le Corbusier’s building is based on a simple square shape, but inside, the walls are filled with diagonal lines. Using one diagonal line in the structure of a square attributes to the strength of the structure in the most effective, and efficient way. Ivan Margolis emphasized the importance of the diagonal, and claimed that ‘Only a diagonal is rigid’ in his book, Architect + Engineer = structure 72. Although a common use of the diagonal is as support, some structures feature it as an essential element; for example the tetrahedron-octahedron truss by Alexander Graham Bell, and the geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller73. Diagonal lines on two structures serve roles as a structural component and at the same time as a visual characteristic, as part of a triangular element, which is bound at each intersection through diagonal lines.
Fig. 35 Laminar Geodesic Dome by Buckminster Fuller, August 31, 1965
3.3.2. TRIANGLE Not all geometrical diagonals are strong. Among all geometric shapes, the triangle is the strongest one regarding rigidity. It is because each diagonal line provides endurance against pressure, and prevents deformation. The foundation of a tetrahedral truss is triangle, and it allows the strongest architectural support to the structure. Thus the space frame is considered as one of the strongest man made structure, since the tessellated triangle has such a high tolerance. Geometric shapes are considered in a structural aspect, but also in an aesthetic, or philosophical aspect. Le Corbusier said â€˜Our eyes are made to see forms in light: cubes, cones, spheres, cylinders, or pyramids are the great primary forms.74â€™ This statement shows that he emphasized the relationship between form and light in reference to the abstract shapes. Aside from a visual medium, basic shapes in geometry could even be attached with a meaning because of their significant characteristics75. It is possible to imply this value by only a shape and a form, not through colour, texture, or other matters. Furthermore, geometric shapes and forms only exist in the theoretical mind of man76, since they only exist as a two dimensional concept. More specifically, the absolute circle, and also straight line do not exist in nature. This leads designers to compose various combinations based on geometric shapes. Among different types of geometric shapes, the triangle is the simplest shape that consists of diagonal lines. This simplicity, especially in a visual sense, would allow for a great complexity of intention77. In reference to the limitation of imagination, and representation, the property of complexity could give significant potential to the design process and its result.
72. Ivan Margolius (2002). Architects + Engineer = Structure. UK : Wiley-Academy. pp. 13 73. Robert Wiliam (1979). The Geometrical Foundation of Natural. New York. USA : Dover publication. pp.3 74. Peter Blake (1960). Le Corbusier : Architecture and Form, U.S.A. : A Pelican Book. pp. 38 75. Donis A. Donis (1973). A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge, England : The MIT Press. pp.44 76. Paul Jacques Grillo (1975). Form Function & Design. New York, USA : Dover publications. pp.38 77. Donis A. Donis (1973). A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge, England : The MIT Press. pp.40
3 . 4 . T O TA L D E S I G N
3.4.1. IMPORTANCE OF COLLECTION Recognizing the value of an idea is linked to the shaping of an object, furthermore it gives us the chance to widen the range of design. Paul T. Frankl, an Art Deco furniture designer from Austria, emphasized the importance of idea in his book Form and Reform: “Beauty is not merely a matter of form and proportions, but also an association of ideas.78“ If form and proportion are connected to the beauty in the details of each design, an idea brings aesthetic of flow through relationships among different designs. The relationship could be between a house and its furniture, the analysis of forms and materials, or something else. Studying the concepts or items of a different field could bring about the possibility of an expansion of a design area. The main reason for the impact of Bauhaus, which changed the design norm, may be an involvement in a broad scope of everyday objects. They tried to build their concepts from small domestic items to complete houses under their philosophy of contemporary design, not only the scope of the design, but also in the experimental works in both the theoretical and practical sides. Flank Lloyd Wright, an American architect, regarded his furniture in the same light as his architecture79. As he designed his buildings, he planned the furniture to inhabit the building. For example, a set of High-backed Dining Chairs (1903) were designed for Ward W.Willits House in Highland Park in Illinois, and his Peacock Chair (1921-2) for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Both are designed under the belief that furniture is an extension of a building. For this reason, much of his furniture is designed as a series of work for a specific place in a specific building. Not only as an expansion of design, a series of work can give depth to design. In the same way as Flank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German-American architect and the last director of Bauhaus, worked in different medium with one specific idea. Following his famous adage, ‘less is more’, he designed tubular furniture that was also projected on his delicate lightness towards building design. Whilst Wright designed most of furniture for a specific intent, the furniture of Mies van der Rohe inclined towards a study of shape and form, rather than his own architecture80.
Fig. 36 Chair for Ward Willits House by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1902
Fig. 37 Ward Willits House by Frank Lloyd Wright, Illinoi, 1901
Fig. 38 Peacock Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1921-
Fig. 38 Imperial Hotel by Frank Lloyd Wright, Tokyo, 1911-1922
He designed a variety of tubular steel furniture, and these were manufactured under the serial code â€˜MRâ€™ including a dining chair, lounge chair, coffee table, stool, and so on until 1931. As he designed this furniture series, his study of tube bending had an impact on the construction methodology especially when compared to traditional chair design.
Fig. 41 (above) MR20 Armchair and stool by Mies van der Rohe, 1927 Fig. 42 (bottom) MR Table by Mies van der Rohe, 1927-1929
3.4.2. STRUCTURE ORIENTED PROJECT In this sense, making furniture in a series, which is based on research or an aesthetic approach, has a valid adequacy. Consistency of material, shape or visual language is normally used to unite different items of design series. The space frame has a strong visual element, and at the same time it has a simplicity that can modified almost freely within a rule set. Furthermore, this aspect allows one structure to be easily applied to another one with same elements and characteristics, but a different purpose. Thus a structural element could act as a linking element in a design series. However, using the same material or same details of shape does not always guarantee consistency as a series. This is because a certain idea or element may not always be suitable for every type of object. Also the biggest challenge to building a series of furniture may be keeping a harmony of language among different furniture items. So, the space frame itself is not a guarantee to a successful furniture series. When each segments is applied on an item, it has to be adapted by scale, proportion, form and so on. With this point, making a series based on a structural base will be a journey of modification in which each element is involved.
78. Paul T. Frankl (1930). Form and Reform (A practical handbook of modern interiors). New York, USA : Harper & Brothers. pp. 47 79. Ivan Margolius (2002). Architects + Engineer = Structure. UK : Wiley-Academy. pp. 13 80. Otakar Macel (1912). From mass production to design classic : Mies van der Roheâ€™s Metal furniture. Stuttgart, Germany : Vitra Design Museum. pp.30-31
ABOUT PRODUCTION PART The building of the prototypes is based on the preceding theoretical review. It is conducted by first developing two previous works of space frame furniture, several scale models, focused on the structural development, and three 1:1 scale mockups. Even though the study prototypes are built as full pieces of furniture, the process is documented for each element of the design. This is in order to better understand the design details and close relationship with the preceding theoretical research. In the final part of this chapter I will introduce technical drawings of entire series, and photos of the finished prototypes.
CHAPTER 4 PRODUCTION
â€œTheories are patterns without value. What counts is action.â€?
- Constantin Brancusi
4 . 1 . T H E S TA R T I N G P O I N T
D E C I S I O N S O F M AT E R I A L I T Y A N D C AT E G O R Y O F F U R N I T U R E
A set of table legs that can be separated from the table top without removing too many screws, is the starting point for this study of space frame production using steel wire. This initial project proved the potential of space frame construction; lightness, and rigidity. Subsequently, the â€˜space frame rockerâ€™ was built. It was focused on creating a more complex structure than the table legs. The difficulty with this chair came with the increased number of elements and a back rest that has a load exerted in a different direction to the seat. Also, the rocking movement of the chair changes the centre of load balance which has an effect on the angles and form of the structure. The entire rocking chair shares a similar aesthetic language as the table preceding it. The crossed lines that form the main structure, however, emerged as one of the biggest problems of the rocker, especially those at the front of the chair which disturb a user during the process of standing up from the chair. The space frame furniture series begins with examining some of the mistakes of these two previous projects. The research is conducted through the modification of the frames, and experimentation with different proportions for different ergonomics within the same structure. The entire series of furniture consists of a dining chair, lounge chair, dining table, coffee table, and stool.
Fig. 43 (above) Space frame table, 2011 Fig. 44 (bottom) Space frame rocking chair, 2012
4.2.1. STARTING FROM THE ROCKING CHAIR Each segment of the first prototype table legs intersect to form a triangular shape, and each element distributes the pressure evenly. On the other hand, the rocking chair frame is essentially a box form; the foot structure extends vertically down from the seating with diagonal lines crossing them. This frame fulfills the structural rigidity with diagonal lines, but does not follow general space frame theory. Even though the rocking chair and the following two prototypes have an aesthetic link through the presence of diagonal lines, they are derived from a different theoretical track from the initial table leg prototype. The inconsistency of structural theory should be the first area to address. The second area to address is the ergonomics. The crossing lines at the front of the chair blocks the userâ€™s feet when a person stands up, a problem that is also evident on the rocking chair design. In order to get enough space for a personâ€™s feet, it is necessary to eliminate the crossing lines or move the front legs backwards. There are several problems that have occurred to the seating of both dining chair prototypes. The seating wires are welded on the first dining chair frame to maintain the square appearance of the rocking chair. This fixed net on the frame, however, causes not only an inaccuracy of spacing between the seat wires, but also the tips of the wires are too deformed by the welding. The seating, therefore, is separated from main frame in the next chair prototype, resulting in a double structure; a repetition of the backrest and seating wire elements. This means that one of these structures can be removed.
Fig. 45. Prototype based on rocking chair, 2012 (Left) attached seating (Right) Separated seating
4.2.2. LEG FRAME STUDY A study mockup series was built to find a stable structure that allows for sufficient space in between the front legs. Thus, the backrest variation was not included at this stage, instead the study was to concentrate only on the base of the chair. Using a similar structure to the rocking chair, models one to three were able to achieve enough strength. But this did not solve the problem of front leg. Models eight and eleven had sufficient structural rigidity by using excess elements. This, however, causes another problem, construction complication. Also, model six did not exhibit its true structural behaviour at a small scale, so the detail need to be explored with the same material as the final prototype and at a 1:1 scale. In conclusion, the study of chair leg structure offers either structural consistency with table legs, or an ergonomic improvement. Accordingly, further research is needed.
Fig. 46. Leg frame study, 2012
ST RE N CO GT H N ST RU FO CT O IO T N SP AC E
AT IO N PL AN EX
ST RE N CO GT H N ST RU FO CT O IO T N SP AC E
AT IO N PL AN EX
o o x
Half depth seat
o o x
Front open with
connecting to back rest point, back and side cross
Extra triangle to
∆ ∆ x
support front of
(based on side cross)
1/3 of seating in
(with smaller angle)
Inner meeting triangle
Square based space frame (with separate units)
Square based space frame (with Fig. 47. Leg frame study analysis based on type, strength, construction and space, 2012
inner connecting units)
4.2.3. BACKREST FRAME STUDY Even though the base frame is not yet clearly solved, a sketch mockup for the backrest is explored in order to find an optimal solution. This study is based on the premise of two vertical back legs. 1. Square shaped backrest with connections straight down to the bottom of the chair : The line that crosses the top of the backrest structure is not necessary element. 2. Square shaped backrest with connections straight down to the middle of the chair : The unnecessary line from model one has been eliminated. 3. Square shaped backrest with connections straight down to the bottom of the chair and diagonal lines to the back of the seat : To give the stronger visual impact of triangular shapes in chair design, lines that begin at the top of the backrest and meet at seat are added. 4. Triangular shape with connections straight down to the bottom of the chair : Another way to enhance the geometric form is studied with a single triangle shape on backrest. These study models are sorted into two categories, those based on square geometry and those based on triangular geometry. Despite the difference of shape, the backseat lines of all models are terminated at the tip of back legs, resulting in a weak structure with stretched the elements handling the loads.
Fig. 48. Backrest frame study, 2012
4.2.4. CORE ELEMENTS Since most of the previous structural studies were limited to the box frame, it was hard to solve the main problems at the same time as maintaining the rigidity. So it seems that there is a need to explore a new structural form. It must follow the space frame theory, even though the overall structure will have a new appearance.
Fig. 49. Core element based structure sketch, 2012
SKETCH, MOCKUP, AND FIRST PROTOTYPE Based on a theoretical review of the concept of space frames, â€˜the core elements of the space frameâ€™, are chosen. one of the fundamental elements of space frames, the pyramid, is positioned at the centre of whole frame, and this form spreads out to form legs, seating, and the backrest. This arrangement of lines allows enough space between front legs. The proportion of frame, however, was too exaggerated in the sketch. Each of the end-points are distorted to an unnecessary length, and it could result in a rigidity problem with too small angles. The 1:1 scale mockup proved the viability of a core space frame based structure. The stiffness of this structure, built with six millimetre steel rods is remarkably high. This applies not only to the legs, but also to the back rest. A structural frame with the core element of a space frame solved the problem of ergonomics, and was consistent with the design of the table legs, whilst also supporting a great amount of load. However, the exaggerations of the form caused some aesthetic problems relating to a unbalanced proportions and an unbalanced centre of gravity.
Fig.50. Core element based structure sketch mockup, 2012
Fig.51. Core element based structure 1:1 mockup (1st Prototype), 2012
4.3. ROD DIAMETER
The rocking chair, two dining chairs and core frame mockup were all built with with same diameter rod. It is, however, more logical to mix different diameter rods based on tension and pressure that apply to each of them. This could minimize the usage of material and also possibly to reduce physical weight. The first core frame study concluded that six millimetre rod would give enough rigidity to frame, but it still retains too much flexibility. This is not a structural problem, however it could give an unpleasant feeling to the user. The frame aims for visual lightness, which may an untrusting prejudge towards the stability of the chair. So, in contrast, the physical experience should break the prejudge that is derived from the visual appreciation. Even though the frame should be physically stable, it should not use steel rod over ten millimetres in diameter. This thickness, which can support a large amount of weight, does not need to be configured as a space frame structure, as it can support loads in a more traditional configuration. The chosen diameter for members under pressure, therefore, should be somewhere between six and ten millimetres. Members under tension, can support the required forces at a thinner diameter, and therefore need only be half the diameter of the members under pressure.
4.4. GENERAL FORM, PROPORTION AND ERGONOMICS Because the previous study frame was built without seating, the following prototype should be complete in order to find a balance between proportion and measurements in ergonomics. The seat measurement is fixed in order to find a relationship between seats and frame, however, the shape and detail of the seating is not a priority of the study at this stage.
SECOND PROTOTYPE Form : The backrest has excess structure as a result of the crossing double triangle shapes. It is reduced to one pyramid form on the second prototype. Ergonomics : Two ergonomic problems with the previous prototype were that the angle of the seat is too reclined, and its height was too low. Through a modification of these problems, the general ergonomics of the second prototype is relatively adequate. The front each of the seat, however, is too sharp, which may be a result of the form or a characteristic of the material. Legs : The back legs of the first prototype were too inwardly inclined, so their position has been adjusted to extend outwards. This, however, may cause an issue with stability as the leg extension is bearing a greater load than previously.
Fig.52. 2nd prototype with metal seat spans, 2013
THIRD PROTOTYPE Ergonomics : Since the second prototype using metal sheet seating was generally comfortable, it only needed a little modification, which was to add two or three centimetres to the height of the seat. Leg frame : The front and back legs are moved inward based on the issues of the previous prototype. Seating frame : At the same time, the length of the frame supporting the seat was shortened to solve visual instability. Proportion : These corresponding changes keep the entire proportion in balance, maintaining straight diagonal lines. Dining chair : Based on the lounge chair design, the dining chair is built by keeping the same elements consistent. There are, however, some adjustments to the basic measurements and proportions. It is more upright in its form and the back legs point further inward than the back of the backrest frame. This gives the slight feeling of visual unbalance. Thickness : In the third prototypes, the members carrying pressure loads are made from eight millimetre diameter rods, and the members carrying tension are made from four millimetre diameter rods. This difference results in a feeling of separation between the main frame and the crossing lines that support it. The tension members are recognized as thin wire rather than rod, because of the comparative difference. Connection : The spacing threads are unnecessarily high, which results in a visual separation of the seating and the frame.
Fig. 53. 3rd Prototpye with wooden seat spans, 2013 (Above) Dining chair frame (bottom) Lounge chair
FINAL PROTOTYPE Structure : It is similar to the third prototype, expect for the fact that the crossing middle bar is unnecessary from a structural stand point and so, it is eliminated from the final prototype. Other changes have also occurred to other elements, which will be mentioned in detail in chapter 4.2.2. Tension : Tension members are increased to six millimetre diameter rod in order to achieve a more balanced appearance. Connection : The length of connections is changed, which will be explained in detail in chapter 4.2.4. Ergonomics : Even though the general ergonomics are similar to the previous ones, the length, depth, and angle of the frame are modified based on changes to other elements. Seatings :The final shape and details of seating need to be explored further, and will be addressed in chapter 4.6.2.
Fig.54. Lounge chair and dining chair frame with plywood seat spans (final prototype), 2013
4 . 5 . B E N D I N G , J O I N T S A N D D E TA I L O F F R A M E
4.5.1. GENERAL BENDING RULE The method of frame bending is an important consideration for building this series in order to emphasize the specific properties of the martial. Cutting of the material has been reduced as much as possible so it must be designed in a way that is easy to bend. Through the building of the first prototype, the need to use one clear bending system became apparent. There are too many different angles and different elements in the first prototype, also there are too many members welded together at the same spot. Thus a new system and specific rules for the details is needed to organize the visual and constructional aspects of the design. F B
H E D A
G J K
Fig.55. Eulerian Graph : Eulerian cycle could get from following the edges in alphabetical order
The frame is focused on building a structure of a single loop. Some members, however, are orphaned when most of connections are replaced by bending. This can be explained as a Eulerian circuit:â€œEulerian trail which starts and ends on the same vertexâ€?. An even number of vertices in the circuit, connected in a loop are necessary conditions for a Eulerian circuit. Based on this, the connected elements of a space frame fulfill the requirements of a Eulerian circuit. Naturally, the frame has to built in one loop whilst eliminating some members. The loop path should follow these rules; When two bending points meet together, they are welded at same level without overlapping. When elements meet at an angle, each one is fixed in middle. Tension member positions should always be under pressure members. The radius of all bending points should be the same except for at the foot.
4.5.2. CROSS BENDING AND CONNECTION Since the connection intersections is a subelements of the frame, the method for connecting separate elements follows the rule of the circuit. Moreover, the construction issues that are associated with welding and cutting leads to specific methods and forms. The intersections, which are constructed in the circuit, can be constructed using one of two methods. One is the crossing of straight members, and the other is formed of two connected V shapes. The manner of overlapping members, however, is excluded from the selection in order to give an impression of visual unity. Thus a decision has been made to use V shaped connections in the prototype.
Fig.56. Cross bending study, 2012
Apart from in the core frame, there are three parts that are detached from the loop. These elements are different properties, and are terminated as end points of the loop. Separated elements are positioned in three segments; one is formed of a tension member crossing each of the feet to the middle of the frame, another is formed of horizontal members that are connected at each legs, and the last is formed of vertical members that support the backrest. The large frame construction is formed from the elimination of options that require doubling of construction. So the research is narrowed down to the simplest method possible in order to weld the core frame, and the placement of its end points varies between prototypes.
Fig.57. connection strudy, 2012
INNER JUNCTION The intersection of the inner frame has two aspects that have to be considered. The first is its location, which is in the centre of the frame. Since there are many members at different angles and radii that meet at the same point, this junction becomes the most complex connection element. Thus each element has to be organized. Facing elements in this section are connected at the same level and angle using one of the bending rules; â€˜When elements meets at an angle, each are fixed at the mid pointâ€™. Secondly, the thinner tension members, and the foot frame intersections.
HORIZONTAL DETACHED BAR The horizontal detached bar is positioned in between the front and back legs. This is related to the previous issue, since is it connected at the inner junction. In the first and the second prototypes this bar gives a fragmented feeling to the overall frame. So the crossing rod in these prototypes cuts an angle and welded point in middle of crossing members. However, in consideration of structural stiffness and the visual aspects of the design, the crossing member is eliminated in the final prototype. Even though the horizontal bar is eliminated, the structure does not lose any rigidity, also it has more visual lightness without it.
Fig.58. Inner junction part of chair frame (from top) first prototype, 2012 / second prototype, 2012 / third prototype, 2013 / final prototype, 2013
BACKREST DETACHED BAR The vertical line on the backrest is attached between the top of the loop, and the back legs cross member. This detached rod is a part of the horizontal bar, so it has to be fixed at upper or under part of back legs circuit. Thus it causes the only exception among all of the frame details. However, it is possible to maintain a consistency of connections in the final prototype with the elimination of horizontal members. Also with the removal of this one element, the end of backrest bar could be welded at the same level as the core frame.
Fig.60. Backrest top connection of chair frame third prototype, 2013
Fig.61. Backrest top connection of chair frame (final prototype), 2013
Fig.62. Backrest bottom connection of chair frame (final prototype), 2013
CROSSING TENSION LINE Tension lines that connected each legs also follows the rule of circuit, even though it is part of it. On the second and third prototype, this lines were crossing each other with overlapping. However, the connection method is changed to a bending of same shape with main frame on the final prototype. With this modification, it could achieve the visual coherence, even though it has more construction efforts.
Fig.63. corssing tension lines of chair frame, third prototype, 2013
Fig.64. corssing tension lines of chair frame, final prototype, 2013
TABLE WITH TWO LEGS The first model is based on a separate top triangle, in order to guarantee a level connection to the table surface. As the direction of bending defines the shape of the foot, and which direction it faces, it has a very important role in first model of table legs. The crossing members could be attached side to side, or up and down. When they are connected from side to side, it can share the same detail as the chairs. On the other hand, when linking in the up and down direction this creates a flat side. Furthermore, it gives the sense of direction towards the front or back. However, this separate triangle prevents the possibility of a circuit. So its bending is considered with other elements on next frame. Ultimately, it gives only one option for the bending direction to the frame, side to side.
Fig.65. Table bending study : direction of foot, 2012
COFFEE TABLE AND STOOL WITH THREE LEGS The legs for a coffee table and stool have three feet, which allows it to stand alone. The general bending and shape follow those of the table legs. However the top triangle is an equilateral triangle, comparing that to the isosceles triangle for table legs. This distribute pressure from the top to bottom equally to each end of the frame.
Fig.66. Welded Stool frame, 2013
4.5.3. FOOT During the first trial of designing a chair based on the rocking chair, the feet maintained the same detail, three connected rods. After the one loop policy was applied on the frame, however, the detail has naturally changed. The original intent of the foot on the second prototype was to weld a round plate to the tip of rods, but it is too thin to support all of the weight on such a small point. It gives also a high risk of instability from the concentration of pressure. To distribute pressure to the ground evenly, the core frame was used as the feet of chair in the second prototype. So, the separated tension members were welded onto the core frame. On the final prototypes the position of the tension members was changed. Instead of using the overlapping fixing method, it was fixed at the same level as the final one. It prevents the distortion of the tension rod during the welding process, and also allows for a high pressure distribution.
Fig. 67. foot type study, 2012
Fig. 68. foot (from lefy) prototype based on rocking chair, 2012 / second prototype, 2012 / third prototype, 2012 / final prototype, 2012
4.5.4. CONNECTION The connection should fulfil two conditions. The first one is to provide distance between the seat and frame in order to give the impression of floating, which could enhance the feeling of lightness of the chair. The other condition is to maintain a visual consistency with the frame. This need comes from an exposed frame structure, especially the backrest. There are many different ways to adapt fittings available in the market, such as muffe, cross dower, or catch. On the other hand there is the possibility to use customized connections, for example thread, plate, or any other methods. Some of these options satisfy the conditions of the connections, some do not, and some may only fit with one connection point. Through a process of exclusion, three fitting methods are considered; catch that gives an attachable feature, a plate that is easy to produce, and threads that could achieve a visual consistency.
Fig.69. connection study, 2013
A catch system could give an interesting property to the chair, which would be detachable seating. But this also makes the connections a little too weak to actually hold the seat in place. Also at a scale corresponding to the thickness of rod, this option can not support enough pressure. A plate connection has the ability to support loads more adequately, and is simpler to produce than the catch or threaded connection. This method, however, creates an unnecessary silhouette on backrest frame, which weakens the linear characteristics of the frame. A threaded connection not only gives enough rigidity as a fixing element, but is also visually consistent in both a material aspect and as an aesthetic choice. Since it uses the same material as frame, eight millimetre steel rod, the threaded connection completes the visual language. One could minimize the size of the connection whilst maintaining proper function and rigidity, hHowever this could create problems related to the accuracy of placement. Misplacing can easily happen when the thread is welded to the frame, and the same problem occurs when fixing the seating panel too. This is solved by shortening the length of thread from 10 to 5 millimetres. Even though the matter of accuracy can cause difficulties with this option, it corresponds to the aesthetic of core frame. Compared to the plate connection, which is a visually disparate element, a thread is made of the same material with a similar tightness to hold the seating. Thus, the threaded connection is chosen for ongoing research from the second prototype.
Fig. 70. (From top) Catch connection / Plate connection / Thread connection
TABLE, COFFEE TABLE AND STOOL The connections for the table, a coffee table, and stool have different conditions than those of the chairs. Since the connection is hidden by the surface material, aesthetic matching with the frame is not required. Also, It is not necessary to create a gap between the surface and frame. These condition allow for other solutions with regards to the type of connection. The direction of fixing is upwards from below, and into the thickness of the surface element, which is solid and flat. These factors allow for the possibility of using ready made joints. The table frame has more freedom than the chair, based on these consideration. A plate connection is suitable, because it offers a simple and economical way of production and maintenance.
Fig.71. plate connection for table, coffee table, and stool
4.6. SURFACES 4.6.1. CONCEPT AND MATERIAL OF SURFACE CONCEPT OF SURFACE The frames have an aesthetic of coldness, linearity and complexity. To emphasize the material characteristics, there are two possibilities for the surface options; one is an equivalent approach, and another would be to using a contrasting methodology. The concept of lightness, coldness, lines, delicateness and complexity relate to the frame structure. On the other hand, heaviness, warmth, surface and mass, firmness and simplicity would contrast with the frame structure. Since there are two different possible approaches to the design of the surface, an aesthetic decision is needed at this stage. To express the dominant theme, ‘as thin as possible’, the concept of surface is used for the seating and the tables. It is theoretically considered as a dissimilar concept from the linearity of the frame. However the application of it has a certain thickness as a physical object. Through using the contrast between thickness and the size of the surface, it could correspond to lightness, which is also a characteristic of the frame. Also to maintain in the concept of simplicity, all surfaces are void of details that could be described as ornamental, in order to emphasize its structure and material aesthetic. ‘Surface’ becomes, therefore, synonymous to the ‘line’ of frame, based on these aesthetic decisions. This important in order to prevent enormously differing visual languages, at the same time as making one unified connection of two different elements.
MATERIAL OF SURFACE Conversely the opposite characteristics of the surface material could subtract from the coldness of the metal frame. This depends on the use of the furniture and its surrounding context. Since the chair is an object for people to sit on, and the potential context is indoor, it is assumed to offer comfort to the user. The frame, however, has an industrial and cold look. Thus, wood, which could give an impression of warmth, is used as a surface material, instead of the metal mesh or metal sheet surface.
The tables and chair possess different surface qualities, which allows for a variation in the selection of wood type. A chair should deliver pressure in different directions to the frame structure and eventually to the floor. At the same time it has to be flexible. Thus seating works as part of the structure itself, not only giving an area to sit on. Using laminated wood could be an option to withstand damage from pressure without losing the beautiful grain pattern of natural wood. When compared to building with solid woof, it allows for some versatility, but does imply a minimum thickness. On the other hand, the table surfaces only receive pressure from the top and bottom bottom and thus it has more freedom of material selection. However, when compared to a chair, the surface has a relatively large area, which gives a strong visual impact to each piece. Therefore, solid, wood seems an adequate choice for the table top surface. Among a variety of wood types, ash is selected for both surfaces. It has a straight and regular grain, and also it has good strength properties whilst being relatively light. Furthermore it has good elastic properties and is shock resistant. These characteristics are very well suited to building a surface that needs to support high tension. that need to support high tension.
Timber & origin
Ash Northern Europe, North America
Whitish with pale brown lines
Tool handles, sports equipment, vehicle frame work
Very elastic and shock resistance; can be steamed to shape
Beech Europe, Japan
Pale brown, golden fleck (medullary rays)
Hard, very smooth and close
Works well with sharp tools
Wooden tools, turnery, furniture, plywood
Very stable; can be steamed to shape
Chestnut (Sweet or Spanish) Europe
Coarse, usually straight
Fairly easy, splits easily
Fencing, turnery, furniture
Rather like ‘plain sawn’ oak
Elm Northern Europe, North America
Pale to dark brown, some times has purple tinge
Coarse, some times very twisty
Fairly easy unless twisty grains
Decorative paneling, furniture, coffins
Withstands splitting, rot resistant
Oak Europe, North America, Japan
Deep straw ‘silver figure’
Hard, coarse, sometimes knotty
Medium to difficult (Japanese usually easier)
Furniture, building, decorative paneling, fencing
Weather and rot resistant if sapwood cut out
Walnut Europe, North America
Grey-brown to chocolatebrown, very attractive markings
Hard, very smooth and close
Works well with sharp tools
Scarce, ‘burr’ veneers very decorative
Table.1 Source, characteristics and uses of common deciduous hard woods David M.Shaw (1973). Woodwork and practice, London, U.K : University of London Press. p. 90
4.6.2. SURFACE SHAPE AND DIMENSION
CHAIR : SHAPE Three variations of seating shape are proposed, based on geometric shapes; rectangle, ellipse, and trapezoid. The rectangular shape is chosen as the preferred option, because it is the simplest of the shapes. It has only two directions horizontal and vertical, which do not counter with various frame angles.
Fig. 72. seating shape study, 2013
CHAIR : DIMENSION AND CURVE The size of the lounge and dining chair varies by a few centimetres, because it is based on basic ergonomics. To find the depth of the seat and the length of the backrest, visual aspects and ergonomics are considered at the same time. Through this process, the backrest size is shortened to 28 cm for the lounge chair, and 32 cm for the dining chair in order to expose more frame, and create a bigger gap between the backrest and the seat. This enhances the image of lightness over the entire chair.
CHAIR : BENDING
Even though the seating is emphasized as a rectangular shape, it cannot be a flat, square surface. Thus to fulfill the functional requirements, the seating needs to be bent to achieve correct ergonomics. The span of the seat and the backrest consist of only two radii, and are identically treated in both the seat and backrest.The different curves of the seat give four different options of seating placement. By the sample test, the arrangement, which is with the bigger radius positions on the inside of the chair, is chosen.
D : Deep curve / L : Low curve
Fig. 73. seating curve variation, 2013
TABLE, COFFEE TABLE, AND STOOL : SHAPE The dining table frame is designed with consideration of the rectangular surface of the first prototype. This is because the asymmetrical isosceles triangle gives a directional orientation to the frame, and gives the entire table shape. In other words, each frame has the different appearance from the front and back when fixed to any shape of surface. Conversely, The frame of the coffee table and the stool have an absence of directional identity and look the same from any angle. To emphasize the equilateral triangular shape of those, a circular surface is used.
TABLE, COFFEE TABLE, AND STOOL : DIMENSION The size of dining table depends on the amount of seating space required. Its aim is to seat four people comfortably. So, it is simply tested with existing chairs that in the market, and the distance between the legs and the length of the table top is modified.
4.6.3. DETAIL OF SURFACE CORNER In order to maintain a rectangular appearance, the curve of the surface corner is kept to a safe minimum.
Fig. 74. Seat corner radius test, 2013
LAYERS OF VENEER The thickness of the seating is minimized to 7.5 millimetres. Each of the top and bottom layers are 0.5 millimeters; three layers of 1.5 millimetres sheets, and two 1.0 millimeter veneers are laminated together. The top surfaces of ash veneer have horizontal grains, which gives higher strength to the seating surface with greater pressure resistance.
0.5 mm (Ash)
0.5 mm Ash
Fig. 75. Veneer layer for chair, 2013
CHAMFER The surface of dining and coffee tables, and stool are built with solid wood. Even though the physical thickness is minimized, it is still comparably thicker than the laminate seat spans. To make this visual thickness lighter and thinner, a chamfer is used on the underside of each edge. It gives an illusion by casting a shadow upon the edge. The stool, however, has chamfer on the top edge, to reduce the sharpness and increase the comfort. This different application is driven by the different method of usage.
Fig.76. Black paper is used to decide the dimension of chamfer. it is possible to comparing changes through Hiding half of the length with it.
GRAINS AND TEXTURE The surfaces of the table and the coffee table are made of planks of ash. The top surface of the dining table uses edge grain, and the coffee table and stool use face grain. This naturally makes the look of the surfaces diverse.
Edge grain Dining Table
Fig. 77. (Top) Wood grain (Left top) Wood cut of solid ash in the project (Left bottom) Dining talbe and coffee table surface grain and texture
The edge grain gives a straight, and neutral pattern to the dining table surface, which emphasizes the length of the rectangular shape. The face grain has more visual interest with a distinct cathedral effect, and an active and clear ring pattern. The coffee table and stool possess the strong characteristics of ash itself.
Edge grain Dining Table
Coffee talbe and Stool
4.7.1. GENERAL RULE : TONE AND COLOR Finishing decisions take an important role on the entire series. The application of finishing can affect the overall visual balance of a piece. An exceptional treatment element could be highlighted, while another part could be de-emphasized with neutral finishing. This project, however, already obtains a signature aspect, which is the space frame, which gives an impression of complexity. Thus, the tone and color of finishes should be neutral to support and emphasize the characteristics of the frame. This impersonal decision is applied to the entire project, frame and surface, and results in consistent finishing. This consistent finishing can tie the objects together as one series.
4.7. 2. COLOR COMBINATION To achieve a balance between complexity of frame and simplicity, the colours are limited to black, white, and natural wooden color. These colour choices help to tie the resulting furniture into their surrounding context, and promote their characteristics of usage. When an object is designed as everyday product, it should blend into its surrounding rather than stand out. Furniture is not like clothing that be changed everyday. It has to stand the test of several years, and be used every day. The black finish in particular makes each rod appear like a sketched line, which gives the impression of a black drawing in the air, whils thte white frame works in the opposite manner. To suggest possible variation, the natural wooden surface is matched with the black frame on the dining table, and matched with white frame for the stool. To show the difference between the textures of laminated and solid wood, one set of chairs and the coffee table is finished in black. In this way the texture of the grain is only shown from the covered variation of the wood coloured finish. The dining table and stool are finihsed as natural wooden surfaces to emphasize the variation of the natural wood pattern from different cuts.
Fig.78. Surface and frame color combination test, 2013
4.7.3. FINISHING METHODS FRAME The frame series is finished with a powder coating. Since this coating type uses dry-powder without out solvent, the frame will have a thicker layer of finishing than with conventional liquid paint. This prevents the chipping of paint with use and covers and bulky welds.
Fig.79. Semi-glossy black powdercoated frame
Fig.80. Semi-glossy white powdercoated frame
SURFACE The finishing wooden surfaces is more complex than the steel rods, because of the varity of different surfaces conditions. There are different clear finishes, such as wax, lacquer, oil, soap, each favoured for appearance, durability, and water or stain resistance. There is also painting, staining, or varnishing which can be used to change the color of a wooden surface. It is necessary to test these different finishes on some sample pieces. Wood : Danish oil is used to treat the surface of ash. Applying the oil hardens the surface, and results in a vivid grain contrast, however changes the surface colour to yellow. It is, therefore, mixed with white pigment wax, in order to keep the original colour and tone of ash.
White : Liquid paint is applied onto the laminated veneer surface. It is usually makes a thicker layer on the surface, so hides the bumpy texture of wood grain. On the other hand, it could achieve the image of a smooth surface, and it showing the characteristics of the shapre of surface more. Black : Compared to white surface, a black finish enhances the texture of wood. For this method wood stain is used to colour the surface. It is absorbed into the surface. Thus it is possible to keep the texture, but have an even colour finish.
Fig.81. Waxed solid ash wood table top surface
Fig. 83. Liquide painted plywood seat surface
Fig.82. Black stained solid ash woodcoffee table top surface
Fig.84. Black stained plywood seat surface
4.8. FINAL PRODUCT
Frame techincal drawing Lounge chair frame Dining chair frame Table leg frame Coffee table frame Stool frame Final techinical drawing Lounge chair drawing (assembled) Dining chair drawing (assembled) Table drawing (assembled) Coffee table drawing (assembled) Stool drawing (assembled) Exploded view Lounge chair Dining chair Table leg Coffee table Stool frame Photograph Lounge chair frame Dining chair frame Table leg frame Coffee table frame Stool frame
Commercial use of these drawings require a valid written license from Ahn Hye Jin, http://ahnhyejin.com/ ÂŠ2014.Ahn Hye Jin
4.8.1. FRAME TECHINICAL DRAWINGS 52.8
Lounge chair frame
Dining chair frame
.4 27 79.6
Table leg frame
Coffee table leg frame
Stool leg frame
4.8.2. FINAL TECHINICAL DRAWINGS
32 110 .5
Lounge chair drawing (assembled)
27.8 10 0
Dining chair drawing (assembled)
43.4 33.3 31.8
Table drawing (assembled)
Coffee table drawing (assembled)
Stool drawing (assembled)
4.8.3 . FINAL TECHINICAL DRAWINGS
UPHOLSTERY leather covered
SEAT Laminated plywood SCREW HEX Flathead M5 x 12mm COUNTERSINK HOLE ø5mm
THREAD Ø8mm x 6.mm
MAIN BODY FRAME ø8mm
TENSION FRAME ø6mm
Lounge chair exploded view
UPHOLSTERY leather covered
SEAT Laminated plywood SCREW HEX Flathead M5 x 12mm
COUNTERSINK HOLE ø5mm THREAD Ø8mm x 6.mm
MAIN BODY FRAME ø8mm
TENSION FRAME ø6mm
Dining chair exploded view
TOP PART Solid ash COUNTERSINK HOLE ø5mm
PLATE CONNECTION 35mm x 0.5T SCREW Pozidrive M5 x 16mm MAIN FRAME SEPERATE PART ø6mm
MAIN BODY FRAME ø8mm
Table exploded view
TOP PART Solid ash
PLATE CONNECTION 35mm x 0.5T
COUNTERSINK HOLE ø5mm
SCREW Pozidrive M5 x 16mm MAIN BODY FRAME ø8mm
MAIN FRAME SEPERATE PART ø6mm
TOP PART Solid ash
COUNTERSINK HOLE ø5mm PLATE CONNECTION 35mm x 0.5T SCREW Pozidrive M5 x 16mm MAIN BODY FRAME ø8mm
MAIN FRAME SEPERATE PART ø6mm
Coffee table and stool exploded view
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
â€œEventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se. â€œ
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The objectives of this research were to propose a space frame furniture series made of steel rods. Another aim was the structural integration to furniture design. To apply these considerations in a holistic approach, the attitude of each consideration is founded and analyzed. To achieve this, the main theories that have been considered in this study are as follows:
STRUCTURE Structure as art An engineering structure has aesthetic value, which is discussed by engineers such as Christian Menn, or David Billington. This can also be found from the relationship between function and form, that can be explained with aesthetic functionalism. The purpose of structure, which delivers the function to an object, drives ‘a beauty of purely useful form’, as noted by Louis Sullivan, and Hermann Muthesius. Structure as inspiration Representation, which is the process of finding the essence of characteristics, allows a structure to be reproduced in another medium. This is a necessary attitude to deal with inspirational sources. However, complex groups of elements in an engineering structure raise the need of specific methodology and consideration. Based on the importance of form, both morphology for generalization, and a formalistic attitude for consideration of visual aspects are suggested as methodologies in this study. However, in this process, the technical and functional aspects are also considered, because of the its unique needs and function. Engineering structure and space frame The space frame is chosen as structural element for this thesis, because of its versatility of application, and lightweight with great rigidity. Its inspirational suitability and advantages are discussed through various existing pieces of architecture and furniture. Furthermore, each item and its technical aspects are reviewed, because the concept is broad and flexible depending on the context. It is specifically defined in this paper as a ‘three dimensional structure that made of linear material in tetrahedral and pyramid forms to resist forces’, and
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
the concentration is more on its form rather than the engineering conditions for modification and representation.
MATERIAL Influence of Material As Paul Valéry mentioned, material is one of the fundamental elements that comprises design. Form and material have a close relationship as is shown through new architectural forms by the application of reinforced concrete and steel. Not only on form and appearance, material also affects ideas by suggesting new concepts for design. Honesty of material Since material has its own characteristics, which have an effect on form and structure, it is possible to express natural beauty throughout the understanding of material and its application. Also, the full understanding of material does not need any ornament or styling to the design, as claimed in ‘Ornament and Crime’ (Adolf Loos 1908) as honesty of material. Metal and furniture Based on the characteristics of space frames, the material choice is naturally narrowed down to metal. Through a review of existing metal furniture, it is proven that metal has high flexibility and rigidity with high precision in industrial manufacturing. Also the use of metal frames offers new forms to furniture. Unlike tubular bending, however, steel rod construction needs diagonal lines in order to maintain rigidity as structure.
AESTHETICAL DECISIONS Objective and subjective Creativity is involved in all design (Paul 1975), and because of this, structure and material cannot rule entire design process. Thus each aesthetic choice is diverse depending on the designers, and it is a highly subjective matter. However it is also based on the objective
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
aspects that are given by structure and material. Lightness Based on the characteristics of a structure, lightness is chosen as specific visual decision. Lightness in furniture is divided into two aspects, visual lightness and physical lightness. Elimination of elements, using transparent material, or a thin material is applied on furniture to give the visual impression of lightness. Physical lightness is easy to define, because of its measurable aspects. Pphysical lightness is not always a sufficient condition for visual lightness. Triangle Pyramids and tetrahedrons, which are the core elements of a space frame, are interpreted with a triangular in aesthetic. The triagnle also enhances the rigidity of a structural form, as â€˜Only a diagonal is rigid (Ivan 2002)â€™. Series An idea of concept has the opportunity to fully develop through a series of designs. This is evident from various works at Bauhaus, and also in the relationship between the architecture and furniture developed by Flank Lloyd Wright. Also designing a series in the same category allows for the ability to design over modification and variation. Based on the decision to create a series under one idea, this project took on structure as the connected idea and repeated element.
The discoveries made in each topic do not clearly derive a specific application. However, the process of prototyping refers to the theoretical studies, and is addressed using the appropriate method. The development of each elements, which deliveredderived from the theoretical consideration research. are :
STRUCTURE Structure and form The general structural feature achieved its form through the representation of a space frame, and took the core elements of space frame design, which are specifically defined in this paper. The entire series consists of the pyramid form, and elements extending from that form. As the fundamental element of structure is the space frame, it naturally results in a triangular characteristic.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Material and bending Steel rod of 8 mm diameter is chosen to achieve the aesthetic aim, â€˜as light as possibleâ€™. The goal is visual lightness rather than physical strength, through the use of a linear material. Using the properties of steel rod, a flexible linear material, the method of bending the frame took the form of a Eulerian circuit, making it possible to build the frame in one loop using two separate elements.
SURFACE Material and surface The concept of surface is adapted for the seating and the tabletop, and it gives impression of lightness through its thiness. To contrast the sharpness and cold of the frame, the surface material is selected as wood, ash. Since the needs of the chair and table surfaces are different, the material choice is varied between laminated wood and solid wood. Shape and dimension Details and general shapes use basic geometric elements to emphasize the characteristics of the material. Through elimination of ornaments, and decorative elements, the concept of material honesty is achieved.
Some choices also stem from personal decisions;
FINISHING To support strong characteristics of the space frame, the general tone and colour of entire series is limited to black, white and the natural colour of wood. This selection of colour not only supports the strong characteristics of the space frame, but also convey the natural pattern and colour of the material.
The scale of applications that are examined in this study were structure, form, and material within their primary functions. Furniture today, however, not only aims to fulfill function, or the application of a new material or structural method, but also trying to be used as a medium for a statement of concepts, an experiment for shapes like sculpture, a combination of new technology with art, and so on.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
A British writer, art critic and curator, Edward Luice-Smith noted this change through his statement: Today I am not convinced that built in furniture is the inevitable and only solution to the problems of modern living. I believe, rather, that furniture will keep its own identity; and that, far from being challenged by architecture, it is now in a position to offer a challenge to sculpture81. So, to maintain a stronger message or identity, this study could be continued with a study of different colour and textiles. It could be, for example, be in collaboration with a graphic designer, in which a message is delivered through it, or a textile designer to incorporate patterns and colours in a traditional way. In spite of the limitations from honesty of structural and material, the space frame structure offered an inspirational source to furniture design. The practical implementation of space frame gives the significant form, triangle, to the structure of a furniture series that could connect each piece. It allowed sufficient rigidity to support the weight of user. Along with its structural properties and material properties, steel rod delivered visual lightness and clear bending methods, the circuit, whilst maintaining material honesty. As a final conclusion it can be stated that the application of space frame has a reasonable place in furniture design, and delivers its important properties and characteristics through representation and through finding relationships among each elements.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
81. Edward Kucie-Smith (1976), Furniture; A concise history. London : Thames & Hudson World of art Ltd, pp.14-16
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY, LIST OF FIGURES
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LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. First flight of the Wright Flyer I from www.dailyhistory.net Figure 2. Chrysler building by William Van Alle, from http://www.robinrcutler.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/NYC-Chrysler-Building-Skyline-1930.jpg Figure 3. Alexander Graham Bell‘s tetrahedral kites from http://www.skytamer.com/1906.html Figure 4. Skylon tower at Festival of Britain from http://complexitys.com/events/skylon-towers/#.Ut607mT8KGQ Figure 5. Wardenclyffe Tower from http://newinflow.ru/img/long_iland.jpg Figure 6. The Arcelor Mittal Orbit sculpture and tower from http://www.sir-robert-mcalpine.com/ news/?id=59415 Figure 7. Tetrahedron and Square Pyramid Illusterated by Ahn Hye Jin Figure 8. Beaubourg project from http://www.bdonline.co.uk/piano-and-rogershit-paris/3082027.article Figure 9. Aircraft Hangar by Konras Wachsmann from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_VoFM4aW7x9A/TLYCZ_JTuyI/AAAAAAAADiM/26bzjgPaEWg/s1600/1955Conrad_Wachsmann-Domus-302-Jan-5-web_800.jpg
Figure 10. Wing sofa by Roy Fleetwood from http://www.artfinding.com/images/svv/1/39/ paolo_piva_ne_en_1950__b__and__b_editeur_table-498-1.jpg Figure 11. Alanda Table by Paolo Piva from http://www.apresfurniture.co.uk/pylon-armchair.html Figure 12. Pylon by Tom Dixon from http://www.kramweisshaar.com/projects/ multithread Figure 13. Multithread by C.Weissahaar and Reed Kram from http://www.kramweisshaar.com/projects/ multithread Figure 14. 72 rue Charles Michels by François from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Maison_Fran%C3%A7ois_Coignet_2.jpg Figure 15. Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier from http://ibpatol.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/villasavoye_2011-08-10_imgp5251.jpg Figure 16. Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona_Pavilion Figure 17. Tekne 3 by Ettore Sottsass from http://mlb-s2-p.mlstatic.com/maquina-deescrever-olivetti-tekne-3-9352-MLB20015000531 _122013-F.jpg
Figure 18. Salginatobel Bridge by Robert Maillart from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/Salginatobel_Bridge_mg_4080.jpg
Figure 26. How high the moon by Shiro Kuramata from http://www.altertuemliches.at/files/sesselhow-high-the-moon-shiro-kuramata.jpg
Figure 19. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées by Auguste Perret http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ commons/9/9b/Theatre-des-champs-elysees-.jpg
Figure 27. Paper sofa by Tokujin Yoshioka from https://pictures.woont.com/furniture/4/Moroso/7/Paper-Cloud/Moroso-Paper-Cloud-30515. XL.jpg
Figure 20. Cadeira para sala de música (music room chair) from http://theurbanearth.files.wordpress. com/2008/05/jugendstil-cadeira-sala-de-musica.jpg Figure 21. B3 (Wassily chair) by Marcel Breuer from http://www.full-container.com/media/catalog/ product/cache/5/image/1200x1200/9df78eab33 525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/B/3/B3-wassily-chairinspired-by-marcel-breuer-01_1.jpg Figure 22. Charlotte Perriand on LC4 Chaise lounge from http://rosswolfe.files.wordpress. com/2013/12/015-charlotte-perriand-theredlist.jpg Figure 23. MR 10 Chair by Mies van der Rohe from http://magedesign.com/pleasure/wp-content/ uploads/2010/03/Mies-van-der-Rohe-MR-10.jpg Figure 24. More Leisure for Men in The Automatic Age from http://blog.modernmechanix.com/moreleisure-for-man-in-the-automatic-age/ Figure 25. DKR-2 by Charles and Ray Eames from http://www.aram.co.uk/chairs/dining-chairs.html
Figure 28. The Superleggera chair by Gio Ponti from http://hicarquitectura.com/2013/08/gio-pontisilla-superleggera-1955/ Figure 29. Pressed chair by Henry Thaler from http://www.leblogdeco.fr/pressed-chairchaise-en-aluminium-ultra-legere/pressed-chairchaise-ultra-legere/ Figure 30. 7800 series by Friso Kramer from http://www.iainclaridge.co.uk/blog/3146 Figure 31. Verglas table by Piero Lissoni from http://www.architonic.com/pmsht/verglasglas-italia/1220054 Figure 32. Death Saw by David Copperfield from from http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Saw Trick Illusterated by Ahn Hye Jin Figure 33. Ripple table by Benjamin Hubert from http://objects.designapplause.com/2013/ ripple-table-benjamin-hubert/30010/
Figure 34. Cord Chair by Nendo from http://mfareview.files.wordpress. com/2011/12/bucky_geodesic.jpg
Figure 42. Table by Mies van der Rohe from http://theredlist.fr/wiki-2-18-view-furnituredesign.html
Figure 35. Laminar Geodesic Dome by Buckminster Fuller from http://mfareview.files.wordpress. com/2011/12/bucky_geodesic.jpg
Figure 43. Space frame table photo by Chikako Harada
Figure 36. Chair for Ward Willits House from http://www.artfund.org/what-to-see/museums-and-galleries/vam Figure 37. Ward Willits House from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Willits_House.jpg Figure 38. Peacock Chair from http://www.design-museum.de/en/ collection/100-masterpieces/detailseiten/peacockchair-frank-lloyd-wright.html Figure 39. Imperial Hotel from http://www.basisdesign.com/tag/architecture/ page/2/ Figure 40. Cantilever chair from http://flairset.blogspot.fi/2010/12/designludwig-mies-van-der-rohe.html Figure 41. MR20 Armchair and stool from http://designermag.org/modern-furnituredesign-ideas/
Figure 44. Space frame rocking chair photo by Chikako Harada Figure 45 - 84 Space farme production process Photo and illustation by Ahn Hye Jin
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Published on Apr 29, 2014