The Chasm Chair project

Andrew Harrold, Harrold Contemporary Furniture, UK
Katty Barac, One Foot Taller, UK

The Chasm Chair project (1998) is the result of a gradual collaboration between the Scottish firm Harrold Contemporary Furniture and the also Scottish designers Katty Barac and Will White of design company One Foot Taller. Both the furniture firm and the design company had their own reasons for looking for a professional partner. At Harrold Contemporary Furniture they came up with a number of questions, such as these: `How do you start a chair factory? Who would design something for tomorrow without looking back?' Katty Barac on her part asked herself: `Who do we know might buy our designs?' Initially a couple of questions remained unanswered for both parties, but gradually their contacts led to a relationship based on mutual trust. Furniture firm and designer understood they could complement each other.

Brief: May 1998
The design brief phrased the assignment as: `Design a chair for a company determined to sell products fit for the 21st century.' Initial aims are for a stacking, business like, contemporary, cheap mass-produced chair. The first Harrold Contemporary Furniture chair should be a classic new design. The more they analyse their aspirations, the more they want uniqueness, adventure. Company and designer discuss what characteristics might be appropriate. The most appropriate characteristic is innovation. They discuss how it might be received by architects and designers. They don't initially decide to be so avant-garde, but things move that way all the same.

Still, the initial drawings and the first elaborated designs do not deliver the expected result. In the end, they would produce the chair design which fulfilled less of the practical considerations of the brief but was more innovative, interesting and cost effective to produce than the others. `Is there any point in making things like everyone else? Is it OK to change our minds?' The desire for innovation justifies a change in the design process. After examining the cost implications of injection moulding, blow moulding and rotational moulding, the original design brief is revised.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

 
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