A digital chair for a historic landmark: Final prototype receives glowing reception

makeLab’s Affleck house chair team finished their final prototype just in time to display it at the house’s 70th Anniversary Exhibition.  The exhibition was held at Lawrence Technological University’s College of Architecture UTLC Gallery from April 20th through the 24th, with opening reception lecture presented by LTU faculty member and respected Wright authority, Dale Gyure, Ph.D in the Lear Auditorium. Since the house will now be used for university functions and is no longer a private residence additional furnishings are required to meet current needs.

 The final chair prototype displayed not only makeLab student’s capabilities but the legacy of Wright’s Usonian design principles as inspiration for current design. The chair’s design was influenced by the Usonian principle of “economy” in both material use and fabrication methodology. Using the this principle as a guide the number of members for the chair was reduced in the final prototype by utilizing thicker 3/4 inch plywood and fewer members (25), reducing both cutting and assembly time and requiring fewer sheets of plywood. The chair’s proportion is influenced by the typically formal seating posture of Wright chairs and its vertical laminations are intended to be compatible with  the vertical emphasis present in details within the Affleck house itself.

The most controversial design element of the prototype chair was the acrylic layer sandwiched between its wood laminations. The acrylic member was introduced to further enhance the verticality of the design and to incorporate translucency, picking up on the vertical window pattern at the entry of the home. The acrylic color, orange—a makeLab signature—maybe changed however, when the final series of 12 chairs are produced using Plyboo Plywood.  

-Jason M. Colon

jcolon@LTU.edu

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