Functional, Flexible & Fun Furniture
An opportunity to participate on Carnegie Mellon University's Solar Decathlon (2007) team, brought about challenges in furniture design.
Per competition requirements, a self-sufficient solar house was to be designed, assembled, disassembled, shipped to Washington D.C., and reassembled for grading.
Specific criteria kept the total sq. ft. rather low. As a result, the spaces within the house, and the furniture within - were considered multi-function. Couches that turned into dinner tables, end-tables that served as battery storage, and chairs that turned into art.
The dFlat, is a multi-purpose chair: hanging as wall-art, but capable of being folded into a chair, or a chair + table combo.
Chairs are functional products, utilized for various situations. In what way can we create multi-purpose furniture without sacrificing space.
Chairs are used for sitting. Typically, as an auxiliary tool for specific tasks or occasions such as eating, working or relaxing. Traditionally, these situations require other auxiliary items, such as tables, desks, or electronics. As a result, dedicating space for seating becomes increasingly space selfish. Work areas require desks and electronics, eating areas require large tables, and relaxing areas require comfort in the form of artwork, candles, end-tables, etc.
Traditionally, furniture has its dedicated space. Mobility, however, allows for an item to be transported to different locations, thus serving its purpose in multiple areas - instead of just one.
NEED VS. DESIRE
Finding ways to combine functional elements into one - will save space. Chair + Table combinations encourage constant use for various necessary tasks. Alternately, finding ways in which the chair might include desirable elements - will improve spatial look and appeal.
Create a chair that saves space, rather than taking it.
Chair should be easily relocated within the home.
Find ways to incorporate necessary and desirable elements.
Create a chair that is capable of folding into multiple configurations. Allow for easy storage, movement, and setup.
Every joint has the can rotate 90 degrees. Flexible joints, allow for multiple configurations.
The back of the chair may fold into a table configuration, allowing for dry-erase or paper form note-taking, and/or laid-back dinner or lunch.
Additional features include decorative panels on every face of the chair. When the chair is unfolded into a flat configuration, it may be hung as wall-art; encouraging ambiance within the space.
Storage & Function
Furniture can be unfolded into flat configuration as hanging wall-art, eliminating its entire footprint from floor space to wall space. The chair's function is improved, by including a pseudo-table space; unfortunately sacrificing comfort.
Two installations provided substantial response from users. Iteration #1, installed at Carnegie Mellon University, in IDeATe@Hunt Library's Experimental Fabrication Lab, was completely revised and improved before installing Iteration #2; located at Carnegie Mellon University's Student Housing facility, Morewood Gardens. The most recent iteration is installed at Bethel Park's Independence Middle School.
The primary structure of the chair can be made from any lumber product that has long-grain qualities (oak) or plywood (Russian Birch). Solid metals increase weight & (sometimes) cost. Alternately, tubular/hollow aluminum may cut weight, while increasing cost. Plastics were ruled out due to cost, environmental impact, weather-ability, and strength.
Vertical wall studs are custom milled. Taper pins, captive-bolts, and dry-wall screws are pressure fit, pre-drilled and ready for immediate installation.
The wall system begins with 2" x 4" pine studs, mounted horizontally and anchored into existing wall studs or concrete block. A custom milled plywood stud is anchored vertically, into the horizontal wall studs. This structure reinforces the wall, improving the overall strength and integrity of the system.
Access to existing electrical/data infrastructure is maintained through openings in specific wall panels. These panels are permanently mounted into place. Overlapping horizontal & vertical studs allow users to run cables or wires behind the wall panels, keeping things tidy & safe.
Although the first installation utilized Garnica-brand Regal Birch plywood, any plywood material (Thickness = 1/2" - 5/8") can be used as a substrate for the wall panels. Cork or dry-erase board (Thickness = 1/8" - 3/16") is glued to the full sheet before milling. Using a 3/8" diameter milling tool, yields (9) wall panels with zero scrap.
Panels are considered 'consumable'; users may drill, cut, or modify any wall panel to suit various project needs. Installing digital signage, using Kinect controllers, creating fold-out-desktops, embedded computation or touch-light panels are just a few prototyping possibilities. Users are provided with a web-forum to submit/share their creations. Access to original CNC & CAD template filesis also maintained through the web portal.
Users are encouraged to rearrange the wall panels as necessary. Panels can be removed and used at desktops/tables as a work surface or dry-erase sketch surface.
Mounting or hanging items from the wall is easier and safer than traditional wall mounting, as excessive overlapping studs are easy to find, without the added risk of drilling into electrical lines or damaging existing infrastructure. As a final, flexible option, an aluminum t-slot track is mounted at the top of the wall. T-slot tracks provide a variety of options for hanging or mounting add'l items such as projector screens.