Material Exploration of a Chair

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Virginia Tech


A chair was designed and built through exploration of material and form. Cardboard was chosen as the main material to create the chair. Initially it was paired with concrete and a first study was developed. Cardboard and concrete as materials were too different and did not support each other. Failures in the design and material were noted which informed the next steps of the thesis. Rather than stacking the cardboard, I implemented a quarter iso-grid that required less cardboard, could create more complex forms, and was also able to interface more effectively with other materials. A chair form was designed to be tested. Ultimately, two materials were chosen to compliment the cardboard quarter iso-grid. In the first chair a fiberglass skin was used to cover the cardboard, providing lightweight structural support. The second chair used steel in place of fiberglass. Sections of the cardboard were replaced with steel. The two versions of the chair each had their strengths and weaknesses. The fiberglass was lightweight, strong, and smooth, however it was difficult to work with and the cardboard became less apparent as a part of the chair. On the other hand the steel fit into the quarter iso-grid as a rib element similar to the cardboard making the quarter iso-grid and cardboard more apparent. The steel suffered in strength due to the notches necessary for the quarter iso-grid and had to be reinforced.



Chair, cardboard, fiberglass, steel, material, quarter iso-grid