The brief was to make a piece of street furniture that suited a particular space (COFA - an art college), that could also be translated easily into other locations. I designed the Flower Chair to encourage creativity through group interaction, but also solitary reflection by allowing the chair to rotate. Made from steel, wood, rubber and rope, the chair is simple to manufacture and easy to maintain and repair.
Mindful of trying to stimulate creativity in the user I set about designing something airy, playful and whimsical. Borrowing from playground design and using theories developed by Google, I developed the idea of using ropes in a standard bench frame to create an elegant playground aesthetic. The development of the form was an initial design problem; was it a bench, was it a chair, how many people should it support? The concept eventually developed around a standard bench skeleton and a one piece rope frame.
The result of this ideation was the final Flower Chair. It is called the Flower Chair, because it rotates on its axis (to follow the sun perhaps) and looks like a flower, and makes a space more inviting with its lively presence. I decided to use wood for the main circular shape, to achieve a warm, natural feel with the raw linen rope.
Aware that I had to make a seating base (as sitting on spaced out ropes would be very uncomfortable) I again returned to borrowing from playground design by utilising recycled perforated rubber. This rubber composite usually lines playgrounds and has a soft, cushiony quality. It is also made from recycled tyres, so has an ecological benefit in combination with its durability and weather resistance. I decided to perforate the rubber so that water couldn't pool in the seating area, but also so that someone from behind could see a person in the chair. It provides two way visibility, without compromising comfort and increases air circulation on hot days.
Allowing the chair to swivel on its center axis, in combination with considered spacing, allows the chair to function as a communal seating arrangement or a solitary one. It is aided in this regard by providing cover from the sides and behind with its arching circular beam - whilst physically insubstantial, it gives the user a feeling of security.
Also considered was the choice of colours. I decided to use light and dark grays, which I think reflect a lot of the artistic aesthetics of paper and clay. I experimented with colouring the circular rail and rope, but decided against it. In the end I settled with some colour on the seating rubber, which can be easily customised for the space and replaced easily and often.
Recently the Flower Chair won a Street Furniture Australia design competition. They said it would be easy to manufacture and hinted at a possible collaboration towards pre-production development.
This is a registered design © Joshua Flowers, 2015