(smow)chair: Vitra Design Museum, Cardboard Furniture Workshop



All this looking at, talking about and writing about other people’s design, has left us yearning to get on with completing our own furniture project: (smow)chair.

As already stated, the basic form and idea were developed in the (smow)warehouse here in Leipzig.

The hard work was then done at the Vitra Design Museum Cardboard Furniture Workshop in Weil am Rhein.

In conjunction with every exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum a programme of events is organised that aims to expand the topic a little and to offer insights that cannot be realised in the “normal” exhibition format.

For the current exhibition “Frank O. Gehry since 1997”, for example, in addition to a series of films and talks a number of “Furniture à la Frank Gehry” workshops will take place.

“Our” exhibition was “Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction”  and on an oppressively hot Sunday in July we gathered with 18 others in front of the Vitra Design Museum for our cardboard furniture workshop – cardboard representing pared down construction. Following a guided tour of the exhibition, and a light lunch, we were taken to an atelier on the edge of the Vitra Campus.

Where after a brief introduction to cardboard and the safe handling of the various tools available to us – we set to work.

The smow chair in development at teh Vitra Design Museum Workshop

The (smow)chair in development at the Vitra Design Museum Workshop

The “we” in this context being the assembled course participants; a cosmopolitan bunch, not just in terms of ages, nationalities and experience – but also in terms of our approaches to the subject.

Cardboard is a relatively flexible material that with the correct handling can be applied in just as many ways as any other material.

“Correct handling” is of course the key.

Because cardboard is an unforgiving material, and if you get it wrong you might as well not have started.

The benefit of such a workshop, however, is that not only are the course leaders on hand to offer advice if you things don’t go as planned – but also other course participants.

All very communal.

And so by the end of the afternoon most of us had managed, if not to have completed the intended object, at least to have taken a few steps in the correct direction.

And perhaps most importantly we all learned a few lessons about the vagaries of cardboard.

Having had the advantage of a) having tested our model in advance, and b) of having already had the help of the (smow) warehouse team, we finished the workshop with the first two prototypes of (smow)chair v1.0

And were genuinely so happy.

And then with the workshop finished we headed of to the VitraHaus for a well deserved piece of strawberry cake.

If anyone fancies trying their hand at making some “Furniture à la Frank Gehry” – also a challenging exercise in cardboard design – the next workshop is on March 5th.

More details can be found at www.design-museum.de

And we’ll bring you up to date on the development of the (smow)chair since Weil am Rhein soon.

Theres more than one way to work with cardboard

There’s more than one way to work with cardboard…

We closely followed tehd evelopment of this little fellow for most of the afternoon

We closely followed the development of this little fellow for most of the afternoon

The first independnettest of smow chair ... it works

The first independent test of (smow)chair … it works!

Cardboard furniture 1.0 - at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein

Cardboard furniture 1.0 – at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein

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