PROCESS                                                                 

This chair was designed and built during a two-month internship with Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design. I used an iterative process of sketching, scaled modeling, and full size mock-ups to design according to the principles of her Timeline House (http://eharchitect.com/timeline-house/), which unobtrusively complements Vermont vernacular with a modern addition. Sustainable principles were addressed through the sole use of reclaimed pine, Douglas fir, and ipe. This project seeks the following:

  • blend traditional and modern forms

  • emphasize comfort and simplicity

  • rely on reclaimed wood

The first iteration of the Timeline Chair was based off of the physical appearance of the Timeline House. Inspired by Gerrit Rietveld's simple and geometric De Stijl furniture, the design plays on the rectangularity of Elizabeth Herrmann's addition. Two C-shaped aspects create the backrest and armrest, just as they outline the decks of the Timeline House, while the tapered front leg reflects the form of the spire above the traditional farmhouse. 

While strong in terms of joinery, having three contact points with the ground makes this iteration unstable. The flat seat and low backrest are uncomfortable and having one armrest is dysfunctional and awkward. Aesthetically, the design is weak in simplicity and does not emphasize traditional versus modern. 

Study models exploring different geometries.

The second iteration of the Timeline Chair incorporated a traditional base with a geometric backrest. The seat is angled at 5 degrees from the horizontal and the backrest at 100 degrees from the seat. The back legs splay out at 10 degrees from the horizontal, increasing stability.

 

This iteration improves upon comfort and stability, but is structurally weak because of the thin pine seat. Visually, it looks disproportional and the flat-bottomed seat is uncomfortable despite its angle.  

The final iteration of the Timeline Chair improved upon the details of the second iteration. The base is comprised of a carved seat, which hearkens back to traditional Windsor chair design and greatly improves comfort. Four legs splay from the seat through mortise and tenon joinery, increasing the chair’s stability. The geometric backrest, which stretches below the seat, doubles as a magazine holder and acts as a simple, modern addition to the traditional form. 

To adress stability, pieces of pine are cross laminated to create a cross-grained seat. That is, one layer of pine has its grain running from the seat's front to back, and the subsequent layer has its grain running in the perpendicular direction. 

Aesthetically, the chair appears more proportional. The seat blank's thickness doubles to 1.5" while in plan it decreases from 18"x18" to 16"x16" (before shaping). Furthermore, the backrest now runs16" high as opposed to14" in the second iteration. 

 © 2019 by Andreya Zvonar

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