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PROJECT CIRCLE studio 7: beyond tomorrow

ellen tanoemarga s3129909


2010 Ellen Tanoemarga Pre-major Studio 7: Beyond Tomorrow Entrepreneurial practice for furniture and objects Kjell Grant & Gyungju Chyon RMIT Industrial Design 2010


project abstract ... 6 project proposal ... 9 background thoughts / what I am going to do / design methods

designing with circle ... 19 the Intention / concept origin / why circle? method in practice / 3d brainstorming / review

study of the forms ... 39 shortlisted ideas ... 53 design development / another approach

choosing the final ... 71 design development concept #71, #28, #80, #75

ergonomics in seating ... 106 final design development... 109 concept #80 / concept #28

self reflection ... 130 references ... 132

project abstract Based on the notion of minimizing the chance of creating similar design to what have been existed before, I would like to propose a new design method and put it into practice on my project. It is about implementing the reverse of conventional design method in working with paper. Intended to design a piece of chair, I would use the paper to create forms straightaway rather than drawing sketches on it. The background narrative of this concept comes from origami art: by using a single rectangular piece of paper, we can create various three dimensional forms of things; whereas, in my project, all begins with a paper disc. The intention of using this single shape is to limit myself within the disc. Thus, rather than looking for inspiration out there and get heavily influenced by things that might lead many of us to the same thing, I choose to explore this circle shape as a bank of ideas and find some tangible design possibilities. Briefly saying, this approach is relying much on what I have inside rather than using things from outside. Even though it is a very hands-on project that involves many mockups making as its main tool, sketching will not be neglected; it will be a supplementary agent in the design process. Furthermore, there are certain conventions I have set myself in assessing the ideas, such as the circle value that is apparent in the form and the number of cuts done on the disc. The evaluation is initially based on the aesthetic look, while in the latter stage; several selected ‘raw’ forms will be developed further to be a chair.



Project Proposal

Background Thoughts

It happened for couple of times already, I have seen one of my design sketches have actually been done by someone else. They were posted on the net, published in books, some even won some sort of award. Moreover, I found many product designs out there are similar to each other, especially furniture; one is slightly shorter, or bigger – basically, they were the same design with just some little adjustments. With the good intention of keeping myself not to be too cynical about this whole design industry, I bear in mind, that sometimes people do it unconsciously. We do not want to copy things, but with the way our brain works, we tend to do so. In general, every human being has the same brain structure. What makes us think differently is the various information we absorb from the outer world through our senses. The memory recalling is another story; people interpret and process information in many ways, influenced by their education background, culture and customs. The world around us has been the greatest source of information, inspiration, and influence, which is beneficial for designers. Nature and daily things are the most common ones – we see things, find them intriguing, then we have some forms of ideas in mind and are triggered to design and create something. Thus, when


we draw, we do the recalling of information from things we see. Since, I am so much of a visual person; I usually absorb this information through beautiful lines and forms. Nevertheless, I am not the only one who is privileged to be able to view this whole world through these kind of eyes. There are many other people (designers) who also have the same freedom to create things and absorb the information from nature and everyday things. Here, I particularly talk about product designers; that we design and make objects. Of course, we would like to do things differently, but we still cannot deny the fact that our tendency is alike towards each other. This is proven on the existence of similar products out there. And the crucial question is:

The issue lays on the way we have been educated, that now most of us are more likely having a similar way of thinking in design. The way we work is so much parallel to each other; we tend to follow these conventional steps: find some inspirations, start putting several sketches on, make a model, do some refinement and construct a final prototype. I would not say that this design procedure is bad, but it has been abused too much that it makes us think more like robot rather than creative individuals. I believe that there is still a gap in the current design method despite of personal preference reason, different interests and the way people have been brought up. Thus through this project, I would like to find that gap and propose a new design method that can be applied later on in my project.

How do we actually design something that is unique if we are all inspired and influenced by the same thing? The challenge is always there: how do we represent and translate our ideas differently and make it worthy and valuable as a product?


Project Proposal


What I am going to do

WHAT TO DO? For my pre-major, I will design a piece of chair. I am aware that chair design is not a new in furniture industry; there are many chairs that existed already. Yet here is the challenge: I am going to create one that has the value of originality by putting the proposed design method in practice. Therefore, the project will also be a self-reflection project about things I have learnt through this course in the past three years, in the form of the finished product. I have been taught in many different ways of designing; all were very useful and worth to learn, but I believe everyone has different way in working. Thus, this project gives me opportunity to use the method that suits me the best. I believe that this project will prepare me to establish and position myself to an area where I should be, as a professional designer, once, I graduated.


Project Proposal

Design Methods

DESIGN METHODS After all of these years being in a design education institute, I have been taught a lot to put my ideas on a paper (as sketches) before I create the 3d form of it. This is the conventional method that each of us has to go through. After weeks of sketching and drawing thumbnails of ideas, the next step to go is to translate them into 3d form: mockups, and final prototype afterwards. I agree that scribbles and drawings are powerful tools to note down design ideas. Yet, looking it from a different perspective, it is pretty common that in the latter development stage we tend to take these ‘raw materials’ as the final design and skip or shorten the whole design process itself. This is the generic design method we always follow:

! the risk of having similar design is high, because the tendency to just copy those beautiful shapes is high. The second stage tends to be a sort of formality; it is like a ’touching-up’ stage when you do slight adjustment in the initial form and add details to make a product function properly as it is intended to. Thus, the exploration process here might not be really effective; it relies on the designer’s capability in developing and visualising the final look through sketches.


Thus in order to minimize the risk, I would like to reverse the design method into something like this:

Therefore, instead of working from 3d form to 2d and to 3d, I am going to run my design process in more straight forward manner: 2d form to 3d. The 2d form I am explaining here is not about putting sketches on a piece of paper, but literally using a piece of paper to construct the design. I am going to use a single geometric shape: circle of paper, as my starting point in designing the chair. I will start the design process by doing some mock-ups instead of sketches. This method is very limited in terms of the amount of material, yet I have the advantage of seeing the forms of ideas from any perspective at the same time. So that I can picture the ideas and even do some adjustments easily. It is a very tangible and hand-on means in designing.


PAPER Same media, different approaches: paper = you can draw as many ideas as you want, the limit is the size of the paper itself, how you manage to get your idea across on a paper. From a piece of paper, you might get various ideas in the form of sketches. paper = use it to create 3 dimensional figures, the limit is the size of the paper itself. The idea you get is a concentrated one and you are able to see it from different point of views.


Designing With Circle


The Intention

The intention of using this single shape is to limit myself within a circle. Thus, rather than looking for inspiration out there and get heavily influenced by things that might lead many of us to the same thing, I choose to explore this circle shape as a bank of ideas and find some tangible design possibilities. Thus, briefly saying, relying much on what I have inside rather than using things from outside. In addition, avoiding the stereotypes is also one of the main reasons for me doing this method, confronting the numerous amounts of the chair designs existed. Another positive side of it is that the design will be more ‘pure’ in a way that it possesses the originality value: I am minimising the chance of myself unconsciously drawing or designing something that has been done before or simply creating a ‘manufactured version’ of nature or things. Moreover, as an industrial designer, I am willing to break the 2d boundary into 3d.


Designing With Circle

Concept Origin

The background of this concept is derived from how origami art works. Origami uses a single rectangular piece of paper as its basic shape in creating 3d forms of things (a crane, a frog, etc). I am taking this notion of the capability to create various 3 dimensional forms out of single shape flat material. Yet, it is not only about folding; folding is part of the process.


Designing With Circle

Why Circle?

why circle? - Circle is one of the most common geometric shape that we find in nature - In mathematics, the study of the circle has helped inspire the development of geometry and calculus. - circle is considered a symbol of unity - It is also the symbol of infinity, without beginning or end, the ultimate geometric symbol - It represents cycle – which always happens in design process - The circle dance, like the round table or council circle is democratic, where no one has a more prominent position than anyone else. – it holds the same principle in product design that every parts of a product is important. - Circle resembles the value of ‘divine’ or ‘perfect’ intrinsically Despite all of the symbolic meaning of a circle, the reason why I pick circle as the starting point in designing is because it is the most understandable form people can relate with. Things revolve around circle, eg. the sun, the earth and the moon.


Designing With Circle

Method In Practice

method in practice The idea of doing brainstorming session is to get as many different ideas as possible (rather than scribbling and making thumbnail drawings). The design process runs by doing some mock-ups instead of sketches. Thus, I will always begin with a fresh piece of disc material in this stage. Various materials will be used in order to achieve different effects and find unusual discoveries of the forms.


materials: - paper - cardboards - tracing paper - acetate paper - polypropylene sheet - fabric - felt - canvas

numbers: - single - multiples

details / features: - wire - stitching - pattern folding - button - pinning

methods: - folding - scoring - cutting (cut into the circle, cut inside the circle) - gluing - taping - sewing - pinning - crushing

additional treatments (pre/ pasca modelling): - pva - resin - hot glue gun - tape

stiffness: - soft - hard - semi rigid


Designing With Circle

material: paper, method: folding


3D Brainstorming


Designing With Circle

3D Brainstorming

material: paper, method: folding, taping


material: card, method: cutting, folding, taping


Designing With Circle

3D Brainstorming

material: card, method: cutting, folding, taping


material: acetate paper, method: folding, pinning & method: cutting, folding, pinning


Designing With Circle

3D Brainstorming

material: tracing paper, method: folding, taping, cutting, pinning


material: polypropelene, method: folding, cutting, pinning & attaching wire


Designing With Circle


review It was not easy to create a form that facilitates the function of a chair. The idea of keeping ‘this will be a chair’ in mind constrains the development of the form. I am also trying to limit myself in the number of cuts and folds to retain the circle-ness value. Self note: treat it as 3D sketch. Be free in exploring different shapes. Idea in the 3 dimensional form. And in the brainstorming stage, the process is rapid. They do not have to look like chairs at the first place. The forms are created purely for an aesthetic purpose. The circle disc is just a tool to design a chair; it is not to create the final form. Thus from there, I would be able to get the ‘raw’ form which later on could be developed further through more mock-ups making and sketching.


Designing With Circle



When do I have to stop myself? When is the ‘eureka’ moment? How do I pick one form for my final design? How do I justify my pick? How do I know that it is the one and it is original? How do I asses myself on this?


Until I see the potential on some forms; it works the same way with sketching, once you know you have prospective drawings, you would keep sketching it and develop the design. Yet in this approach, I would start refining the idea by working on the proportions and probably do some adjustments here and there, by doing more folding / whatever methods I used. Start fresh. New disc: new design, new possibility. You know it when you know it. It could be something – eureka moment. It has to be something that possesses the circle value. There should not be any unnecessary folds (=folds that change the shape of the circle itself). The beauty of the circle has to be apparent. It can’t be done from any other shape. I would not reach the shape if I didn’t start with a disc. Other than that, it is about personal preference. Human is constantly influenced by what they believe and it is reflected on the way they perceive things and also their decision on something. Isn’t it about self-reflection project?



Study of The Forms

how? Method: by categorising all mockups based on the number of cuts. - perfect disk (no cut) - 1 cut disc - 1 inside cut disc - 2 cuts disc - 2 inside cut disc - 3 cuts disc - 3 inside cuts disc - 4 cuts disc By analysing them, I could derive some more specific characteristics that would possibly be achieved through different cutting treatment. The potential ones could be develop further, form-wise, in more directional way.


Study of the Forms

perfect disc + the forms are derived from perfect circle + unity, continuous edge + well-resolved form - tend to have similar features


1 cut disc - the cut does not do much impact form-wise


Study of the Forms

1 inside cut disc + high possibility of creating exciting form + ‘fluid’ and unusual resolved shape - lots of tension, strong structure needed


2 cuts disc + manipulatives, 2 cuts could do a lot - lots of open sharp edges


Study of the Forms

2 inside cuts disc + exciting shapes - confusing - overlaps would not work in thicker material


3 cuts disc - too much of decorative details from the cut lines - shapes are similar to others


Study of the Forms

3 inside cuts disc + the cuts allow contour development - many overlaps that would not work in thicker material


4 cuts disc + rich in variation and details - some forms tend to be over-decorative



Shortlisted Ideas


Here are the first twenty ideas I picked for my design development.


Shortlisted Ideas

Design Development








Shortlisted Ideas

Design Development


The concept of this form is giving you the capability to assemble your own chair by putting it onto its structural base while flat-pack product value is offered too. Yet, analysing it further, the number of cuts done onto this piece are too many, its authenticity as a form that made from a disk shape is not really apparent.


Two different variations of the chair; normal height’s and lazy chair.


Shortlisted Ideas

Design Development

#53 The unique value of this concept is that by having just a single cut inside the circle, it will create its three dimensional form by relying on the folding technique.

Another attempt in creating different form with the same cut.


Felt with wire-frame inside.


Shortlisted Ideas

Design Development





Shortlisted Ideas

Design Development




Shortlisted Ideas

Design Development




Designing With Circle

Another Approach

another approach Focus on the capability of single form (disc) to create various chair designs. How some cuts and folds will bring up some possibilities in creating different chair design – semi customised. Thus, from a single disk shape, with pre-cut and pre-scored details, the user could have more options in assembling their chair to suit their needs (with or without adjustable structure too). The aim here is to be able to pack them all as a set, which is good for transportation cost and lower the production budget. Folding techniques become the major concern in this project. It is like a puzzle a bit that the user would require to do certain folding in a particular way in order to build their own chair that suits their need. Of course, there are limited numbers in the options of chair types the user would be able to choose. From one single circle (probably with some cuts, few folding), you have the capability to create series of different shapes of chairs. + flat pack sort of furniture, easy in transportation, multiple choices for various function or shape, lower manufacturing cost, saving space - function over aesthetic, how to deal with aging (product longevity)


Review: didn’t work that well. The design is constrained. It just looked like another foldable chair design. Okay – drop this idea!



Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #71

concept #71 I found this form aesthetically intriguing; the way it is folded, creates an interesting concave shape. I thought that the form has some potential to be a chair even though support structure is definitely needed for the base.

Since the base has a circular contour, the form somehow rocks in such unique way.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #71

larger scale mockup: made from 1000 mm diameter cardboard disc. review: the form does need a base structure in order to keep it balanced. The back angle need to be reevaluated because it was a bit slanted.


further development of the form: variation on proportion and folds.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #71

ideas refining #1

semi-rocking chair look


possible base structures


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #71


issue: as the whole pleats got pressed by the mass of the sitter, the whole back bit will come down. or else, the side bits of the pleats need to be made semi rigid.


Even though the ‘flowing’ pleats on the front create a bit of an issue about how to sit on, they also make the whole look of the form being more ‘friendly’ (rather than initial sharp one).


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #28

concept #28 This concept is initially inspired by the first paper mockup I did during brainstorming session. I find the idea of ’closure’ might be good for a chair cause it gives you comfort feeling. Thus, I tried to play around with some more flexible material such as modeling mesh and layered felt.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #28

larger scale mockup: made from 1000mm diameter cardboard disc.

From the model making, I found that the hanging pleats at both sides have the potential to be armrests. It may just be an additional function but there is possibility of designing it to be one.


further development, variations on the side pleats.

some models with facetted patterns, they did not work that well.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #28

ideas refining

I personally think, the design will look more elegant with a metal base structure, or anything that is sleek and slim. It also has the probability to become a high or a low chair.


side pleats: for both aesthetic attributes and arm rests.


chair legs design


Choosing the Final Four

Concept #28


body behavior and seat height


possibility for a patterned ottoman

various seating back angles


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #80

concept #80 I think the half curvature shape and the sharpness of tahe back edge create a quite unique combination. The back curve shows its ‘circle-ness’. These are the two early approaches of the form.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #80

form study

wire study: to understand the parts that need strong structure.


large scale mockup in progess


Choosing the Final Four


Design Development #80

dimension: diameter 1000 mm seat height 260 mm total height 590 mm width 1000mm curve width 170 mm review: the chair is too low, some additional base or structure needed. The curve is a bit too overwhelming, it may need some contour as well.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #80

form further development: I was trying to manipulate the folds so that I could get some variation of the back part of the seat. The straight flat line did not seem to turn out well as so as the rounded back that apparently needs another cut in order to make it happens. I was attempting on having different kind of back curvature lines, but then it became too decorative.


ideas refining I pick this form to be developed further mostly because an aesthetic reason. The fluidity of the form is really apparent and also it structurally has the raw shape to be a seating object.

possible heights and back support shape.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #80

contour study

different colour on each sides creates an interesting outcome


possibilities: using a single colour material for the outlook or putting in some accentuate patterns on some areas.


Choosing the Final Four

Design Development #75

concept #75

I am interested to explore this form for its fluidity from the over-lappings. The bottom part also makes it possible to rock sideways.

folding technique, there are two cuts inside.


Choosing the Final Four


Design Development #75

review: the overlap was not working really well in the larger size and thicker material. It lost its ‘airy’ effect. And also, it does not look that feasible for this form to be a chair as the seat part is not deep enough and too many details under it (so most of the material was not use effectively, most of the excess did not contribute much in shaping the form).


Ergonomics in Seating

back arm cushion




chair 106

ergonomics in seating Chair = to support human body think about the sitter’s structure not only the chair’s. To be considered the comfort of: back, buttocks, neck, shoulders Seat Seat end To be considered as well, harder piece of material could be slipped in, to keep the person from sinking. There should be no pressure under your thighs, might distract your blood circulation. Thus seat end rail always has to be curved downward. Seat height It is related to the restriction of the natural function of internal organs and stomach that may cause tiredness. The standard height is about 18 inches from the floor. It can’t be too low since it will reverse the natural forward curve of lower back thus one’s

knees should be lower than one’s hips. The entire foot should rest securely on the floor, Seat width and depth have to be at least 17 inches. Head rest It needs to be adjustable to different people’s height. The rest should be under the skull in order to hold the skull up, rather than something behind your head. Back Standard ergonomics angle of the seat and the back is 110 degree. Cushion Sink depth: one or half inches maximum, should not be more than 2 inches. It will create tension and discomfort on the femur because it will kink; bones should be supported well. Armrest Only 4 % of our weight is transferred down.



2 selected concepts




These are the two final designs I selected to be made as finals. One has a single cut inside the disc and the other one has none. Both of them bring up the circular value that is resembled through the fluidity of their aesthetic forms.

Final Design Development

concept #80

study of the forms


Concept #80

proportion and dimensions 1:6 scale model


Final Design Development

Concept #80

structure study: planning for the chair’s skeleton.


wire construction


Final Concept & Development

Final Design Development

Concept #80

Structure is one of the main concerns with this design. The base has to be strong enough to hold the whole seat and the back while maintaining the initial feature of the legs. The construction bits should not interfere with the folds below the seat. What I tried here is giving it a solution by putting several supporting ribs to hold the seat while still having a slim legs structure.


Final Design Development

Concept #80

dimension testing, 1:6 scale model


back seat study


Final Design Development

Concept #80

1:1 mockup making 1st attempt The plan is to do the model in parts; the base will be the scaled up version of the earlier proposed structure. material: cardboard dimension: width 1260 mm height 438 mm seating area approx. 630 x 700 mm review: There was something wrong with the proportion; it did not seem right. Probably because, they are all from separate bits, thus each of them might not be connected properly. And I do realise that I need a bit of structure here.


2nd attempt This time, I am going to do it from a circle disc and add a structure base later on. material: cardboard and mdf boards dimension: 1200 mm diameter disc height 420 mm seating area approx. 450 x 450 mm


Final Design Development

Concept #80

1:1 final mockup


review: I am basically pretty happy with the proportion of the chair even though it may need to be slightly bigger. I will later on work on the structure for the back and also its angle.


Final Design Development

concept #28

study of the forms


Concept #28

structure study


Final Design Development

Concept #28

study of the forms I was using plasticine to create a solid surface on the wire mesh, the plasticine also keeps the form in shape while it is still bendable.

1:6 scale model an example of how the seat is going to look like with a person sitting on it.


1:1 mockup making


Final Design Development

Concept #28

1:1 final mockup


review: I think the size of this chair is just right. I may need to consider the base and legs for it in the next semester. The pleats will also need to be reinforced by putting some skeleton inside.


self reflection I started this project with thoughts and questions. I spend most of my time writing in the early weeks of the semester, I knew what I want to do but they were all vague. I personally wanted to do a furniture piece (chair especially) cause I think there is many to explore there and it will be challenging too. I said that it is challenging because many people have done chair design already; and I do not want to design ‘just-another-kind-of’ chair. In addition, I wanted to know if I am really capable to work in furniture area by overcoming this challenge I set myself. As this will be my last project in university, I think this is the best time to do as much self-experiments as possible. My project is based on my personal philosophy. Putting it in one sentence, my project is about limiting myself inside a circle. I am going to design a chair; this starts with a circular disc. The reason why I am constraining to myself is because I believe that limitation will lead me into something. I need a purpose, an aim, a goal. And my vision for this project is using whatever thing I have at its best,


implicitly and literally (using a disc to design a chair). People always get nothing when they do not have an objective, and as long as I get a clear intention for this project, I believe that this project will be more than worth doing. I will conduct this project in a very practical manner. It is my own preference. People work differently; some are good in drawings, some in CAD, and some in model making. I am a very hands-on person; I like to make things by hand. I have always been taught to sketch first then make models all of these times, why can’t I do it the other way around? Because I am the one who make the brief, I had to set regulations for myself. For example, I wanted it to be from circle or I want to use as less cut as possible. Thus I have to bare the consequences myself, I have to stick to the rules, even though I am stuck and tempted to contemplate a bit in some parts. And the biggest challenge for me is working on the proportion. Since, I can’t add more or reduce some bits off the disc; I have to maintain the

proportion to be fairly reasonable for a chair. I could have add some features (eg. legs or structure) later on, but the basic shape have to be from one circle disc only. Another struggle I was facing in this semester is choosing the ideas. Because there are plenty of different ideas lying around, I became unfocused for quite a while. I was impulsive in liking too many little ideas. I had to learn to self-assess my own ideas by being both objective and subjective. It happened couple times as well when I had to let go some ideas do not suit with the brief even though they may look great.

form-wise, function-wise and cost-wise. I have not decided the material yet, but I have some rough idea about the final look and feeling of the piece. I will set context of the product, the target market and several other stuffs to bring the design into completion. A production of the final prototype will be conducted as well either through manufacturer or self modelmaking.

Ellen 11 June 2010

Now, I have picked my best two and I am still contemplating which one to choose for final. I cannot really ask people around to choose between the two, if I did, the result will then be others’ preference, not mine. I do have to do the evaluation myself. Next semester will be the time for me to focus on one. Some fix and changes will be needed


references Bradford, P. & Prete, B. (ed.) 1978, Chair: The State of Art, Thomas Y. Crowell Publishers, New York. Cranz, G. 1998, The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London. Google Images, all of the photos and sketches are done by me unless stated otherwise.



Assessment Weighing: Design 50% Book (DVR) 40% Participation 10%

Ellen TANOEMARGA S3129909

Project Circle  

Premajor Project Studio 7: Beyond Tomorrow RMIT INDUSTRIAL DESIGN 2010