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Folding Furniture Meha Shetty FID UG 2010 Course Faculty : Nijoo Dubey



Brief “The brief was to design a folding furniture for a balcony keeping in mind the space constraint and the relaxation service that needs to be fulfilled by the furniture that can enhance its usability of the space in terms of more human interactions.�


Why ? Balconies are a platform projecting from the wall of a building, supported by columns or console brackets, and enclosed with a Balustrade, usually above the ground floor. The spaces act as link between the interior and exterior in a house. Mainly in apartments which are high rise, balconies become an important part of the house as the space inside the house always falls short. People mainly use this small space of a balcony to do various odd activities. These activities mainly include drying clothes, gardening, storage space for lesser used articles or sometimes for all these together. Balconies are generally not exploited for one its most important uses, the fact that its an inlet for fresh air. Due to lack of space in the balconies, keeping proper furniture is not a good idea. Also, due to the multi-purpose usage of the space, the furniture should be such that it is not in the way all the time. Having the facility of seating in the balcony will make it more lively and interactive. It will also lead to intake of fresh air in a busy lifestyle.



“Independence is fun, especially when there’s a beloved waiting in the wings, and freedom makes you a more interesting person. Having separate lives brings fresh air into a relationship.� Deborah Moggach



Initial Research I did an initial research by looking at the balconies that generally people have in apartments. I chalked out rough plans to get the approximate area provided for balcony space in the houses. I did a similar study of the metros in India and hence found out that most balconies range from 8’X10’ to as big as 11’X11’



Furniture Traits The idea was to make a relaxing seating for the balcony which is fold-able, so as to it doesn’t lead to space crunch when the balcony is supposed to be used for its other activities. A relaxing chair is generally a recliner with a very large foot print. So, the challenge in this furniture piece was to create a recliner with a very small foot print in order to accommodate atleast two pieces in a single balcony. Another feature was to have a simple one action and single line folding so that the foldability trait of it comes into practice and it does not become like any other chair in the house. Also the material had to be warm and easy to clean as it would be kept in the exterior where it is in direct contact with cold and dust.


Concept Sketches

Concept 1

Concept 2

Concept 3

Concept 4

Concept 5

Concept 6 11

Mechanism Development Concept 1 This concept involved a slit mechanism where the link would be pivoted from top end on the backrest and the other end of the link would be sliding along the slit on the back leg. The problem with this mechanism was that when the piece would be folded, due to gravity it will unfold itself on its own as there was no self locking in the folded position. Hence it would be dangerous to use it. Concept 2 This concept involved a slit mechanism where the link would be sliding along the slit on the backrest and at the bottom end it will be pivoted to the back leg. It was just the opposite of the first concept. The problem with this mechanism was that during the unfolded position when the weight comes on the seat it will shut abruptly which would be dangerous. Concept 3 This concept involved a two part link where the link breaks into two pieces with the help of a pivot and creates the movement for the chair to fold or unfold.


The problem wit6h this mechanism was the all the weight would go on the locking mechanism of the pivot that breaks the main link into two parts making it too weak and hence too shaky.

Concept 4 This concept involved just having one simple tie in the front that prevents the chair from folding flat on the ground. This concept involved the problem of lack of load sharing in the backrest area as putting a tie even in the backrest would prevent the chair from folding completely.

Concept 5 This concept involved avoiding direct contact of the link with the backrest and instead introducing a clamp to generate an indirect pivot between the top part of the link and the backrest. This concept was not giving a smooth folding and hence it was developed further to achieve the last and final concept.

Concept 6 This concept involved a two part link mechanism which together work to achieve the desirable folding. Both the links are connected to each other using a single pivot and their respective other ends are indirectly connected to the backrest and back leg using the claps used in the previous concept. There were no drawback in this mechanism and so I went ahead with this to try out mock ups.


Mock- Ups

Initial mock ups were tried to test the actual folding mechanism and to figure out the dimensions. These mock ups were made using waste ply wood strips and polystyrene strips as there are easy to cut, bend and join. Once the final mechanism and dimensions were figured out, a small scale model was made to explore and finalize the joineries. 14

Scale Model A small scale model was the next step after the mechanism was figured out. I made a 1:2 scale model. It was important to figure out the joinery and materials before proceeding forward to make the prototype hence I made the model. The model is the exact small scale replica of the final furniture piece.


Final Prototype- PROCESS

(1) Making the wooden members First all the wooden members were cut from the bigger pieces of wood into there finished shapes and sizes. These included the 2 pairs of members that act as the backrest and the front leg and the other pair of members that act as the seat and the back legs. The two pairs of links were also cut along with two wooden tie members.


(2) Making the clamp The clamps were an essential part of the prototype and also the part that took a lot of time as each piece had to be handmade using 2mm thick MS sheet metal. First, the basic T-shape was cut in metal and then the desired radii was given to it first by grinding on grinding machine and then on the hand held grinder. Later it was filed using filer and then the required holes were made on the drilling machine. As all the pieces were identical, all the deformation was done on all the pieces together to make them look exactly the same.

(3) Making inserts for the pipes The pipes that were holding the canvas seating was connected to the wooden members with the help of CSK Allen bolts. The pipes needed metal inserts with threading for this joinery. A 16mm rod was cut into 8 pieces for the inserts in the 19mm MS pipe. Each insert was turned on lathe machine to create the vertical holes and then finally manually threading was done in each piece. The inserts were then welded to the pipes.

(4) Making metal casing for links The wooden links needed a metal casing for additional strength. So, a 1.5 mm MS sheet metal strips were cut and bent around each to create the casing. The casing was joined with the wood using MS rivets that were later on sanded for a finished look.


(5) Testing Assembly All the members of the furniture piece were assembled to do a final assembly and test the workability of the prototype. Finally the piece was de-assembled and the next step was its finishing.


(6) Finishing All the wooden members were sanded using fine grain sand paper. Two coats of Rosewood coloured stainer was applied on it and then finally two coats of lacquer was applied. The metal pieces were pained matching the colour of the finished wooden pieces.

(6) Final Assembly Once all the finishing was done the final assembly took place. (7) Canvas stitching After assembling the furniture, the canvas for the seating was stitched. I put a layer of canvas and over that i had put another fabric with Indian motif print to add some elegance.


Salient Features Some of the salient features of the furniture is that :







1. The total footprint of the chair is much lesser than most recliners but still it doesn’t compromise on the comfort. 2. A simple single action, one of a kind folding mechanism makes its foldability put to use as most people don’t use a folding furniture for its foldability due to complicated folding actions. 3. The seating canvas is fixed with the chair in such a manner that it can be easily removed and put back, which makes it easy to clean and maintain. 4. The folded position has a self lock that makes it easy to carry around in the folded position. Especially when the cleaning of the balcony is supposed to take place, the person can easily move around the furniture in its folded position and it wont open till he/ she opens the lock, making it safe to use.

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Folding Furniture