Three-Week Chair, Prototype #4

On June 30th, with other projects in the shop wrapping up, I realized that I had three weeks until Port Moody Celebration of Wood Woodfair.  I knew that I wanted to have some new work for the show and got the idea to design a chair. That night I started prototyping.  Previously, I posted a review of prototype #1#2 and #3.

During the build, I referred to the chair as version 4, not prototype 4 because I hoped that I would be satisfied with the end result.  As it neared completion, I realized that although it was clearly my favourite of the four designs, it still needed refining.


This design benefited greatly from the previous three prototypes on which I worked out the critical dimension and angle of the back rest.  Here is what this design taught me:

  • I got the dimensions and angle right so the chair was comfortable;
  • the aesthetic of the design was okay, but I wasn’t quite happy with the overall form; and
  • the whole chair tended to sway side-to-side.  The sway seemed to come from the frame itself and not from the joint at the bottom stabilizing cross member.  This may have been a problem with the design itself or with the fact that ash was one of the more flexible woods.


In three weeks I designed and built four prototype chairs and learned a lot along the way.  However, I wasn’t able to finish the design process but I discovered what worked and what didn’t work, what I liked and what I didn’t like.  It was a good challenge and I enjoyed the journey.

In a way, it was my own version of the Telephone Game Design Experiment (why not sign up to play?).

This slideshow includes all the pictures I took during the build.  I welcome any feedback you may have.  You can follow my live updates via Twitterfacebook, or Tumblr.

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6 thoughts on “Three-Week Chair, Prototype #4

  1. I like the lighter look. The lines and curves are more “sensuous” in #4. I hope someone orders 12 for a conference table in some giant corporation. Nice job!

  2. #4 looks great! though I’m sorry it flexes to much for comfort. I can see how if you constantly evolved the same pieces, you could really get the kinks out (like say Maloof’s 164th chair) I should really attempt something like this in the future. Thanks for sharing your design process out in the open.

  3. I think you’re on to something here Chris. The base, the seat and the back all flow together. I was thinking that maybe a slight taper or perhaps a oval form to the seat and back rest might improve the look. Make it look less like a picket fence?

    1. I am confident that there is enough strength in the chair to hold you off the ground. However, the side-to-sway issue might be an issue. I’m not sure how it would fail, but I think it would be interesting to learn.


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