(Unfortunately before I took the final pictures one of my friends jumped on it and it’s a bit tilted, but it’s still very sturdy)
When I first heard that our stools had to be made entirely of cardboard and we couldn’t use any other material in our project, I became intrigued with the idea of comfortably supporting a body fully off the ground. I built my chair with the image of only cardboard separating my body and the floor beneath me.
“Architecture is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of form.” This quote from Mies van der Rohe exemplifies how I built my project. I started with a clear idea, but then I just kept adding to it as my project unfolded. I started with the top of the chair. First, I used a cardboard box to make the seat. I cut the flaps off a cardboard box. Then, using a notch technique, I used the flaps to create triangular supports within the first box and covered it, and then slid that inside the main ring of the other box, like a sheath. This allowed me to squeeze cardboard in between the two and have it fit very snugly.
I used this to build the back of the chair. I slid pieces of cardboard between the seat and its sheath to make a sturdy back. At this point, I had finished my first draft. I showed Kelsey my idea, and she suggested that if I wanted to play on the idea of suspending someone above the ground, adding legs to the chair (which would add height and decrease the area of the base) would add to the effect of being supported just on the material. I really liked this idea, so I built four triangular legs out of cardboard sheets.
The problem here was that the legs had no way of attaching to the seat. I tri-folded a sheet of cardboard and slid the ends partially into the sheath, so there was a hollow rectangular region. I then cut triangular holes in the sheet, and fit the legs into them, sliding them through the hollow region and hitting the base of the chair. To stabilize the legs, I slid another sheet of cardboard onto the legs and left it near the bottom, so the legs of the chair wouldn’t spread or shift. This actually adds a small aesthetic detail that serves a function, and it was my favorite little part of the project. It reminded me of the kinds of caps we saw in the Greek order of columns.
The last part of my project was a leg rest for comfort. This was a totally spontaneous and unplanned part of the project. Sitting fully suspended with your knees at a 90-degree angle puts stress on the joints and is uncomfortable (a problem I didn’t account for in my original plan), so I decided I needed a way to increase the angle that your legs were suspended. I added a footrest that protruded from the sheath and bent it so that it had a support that was perpendicular to the seat, so it wouldn’t collapse.
In the end, to have a little fun with aesthetics, I spray painted my chair. I made a stencil block M out of paper, grabbed some spray paint and plastic trash bags, went outside of South Quad and had at it. I started by spraying the seat gray, and the rest of the chair white. I sprayed the left and right sides yellow, then taped the stencil onto them, then sprayed white over the whole side to get the yellow block Ms.
“An architecture of complexity and accommodation does not forsake the whole. In fact, [there is] a special obligation towards the whole because the whole is difficult to achieve.” -Robert Venturi
I believe this quote sums up the stool project for me. The whole time I was working on unfolding the ideas of my chair, like adding the back, the padding for the seat, the legs, or the footrest, I had to constantly consider the main part of the project: the tectonics and the battle against gravity. This need to defy gravity ironically grounded me, and was an awesome limitation to have to think around. I feel that this was especially the case in my chair, because if your feet aren’t touching the ground, they can’t bear weight. My chair was holding the full force of a person because the users’ feet weren’t on the ground. For this, I had to build an interior design that would spread the load evenly across the seat, to the corners of the box, to the legs, and this was the biggest challenge of the project. If I had to do this project over again, however, I would definitely make sure to use a box cutter instead of scissors.