Defining Sustainability Through Bentwood Lamination

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Virginia Tech


What does sustainability mean with respect to furniture design and fabrication? How has technology - created and subsequently clouded - opportunities for new thinking? This body of work explores these broader questions and, more specifically, the efficiencies of bending wood. Historical precedents will guide a distillation of established bentwood technologies, which in turn will generate a more sustainable operation. The framework of this operation revolves around a minimalist approach to design coupled with an increased focus on product longevity - the paramount sustainable attribute. Additionally, an investigation of suitable alternatives to the most common - and highly toxic - adhesives is necessary. Beyond secondary research the primary research will utilize small-scale models to minimize material waste while examining the appropriateness of new processes. These studies will emulate the sculptural plywood experiments of Alvar Aalto and Charles and Ray Eames. The final manufacturing process will make use of these study models with the intent of generating a modular system of interchangeable formwork to customize sustainably produced pieces. Final deliverables include the tangible studies along with full-scale designs utilizing modular formwork and a research component documenting the potential for a more comprehensive definition of sustainability with regards to furniture.



Sustainability, bentwood lamination, woodwork, furniture