Origami chair redesign: fixing FLW’s problem?

May 28th, 2013 by SLSolarz

Thanks for checking out my blog post!  As I promised in last week’s entry, this week I will reveal whether or not I solved Frank Lloyd Wright’s design problem.  The Origami Chair famously has a tendency to tip forward; especially as the sitter scoots forward in preparation for standing up.  Wright’s solution was to add anti-tipping feet; he added metal caps to make the extra pieces look more intentional.

This photo provides a good view of FLW's anti-tipping feet.  They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

This photo provides a good view of FLW’s anti-tipping feet. They are the pieces of ply with the metal tips.

My thought was to make the front feet larger, providing a greater surface area and, therefore, a lesser proportion of the sitter’s weight on the front corner of the feet.  Good idea??  I originally made the feet about 4″ long (a 25% increase from the FLW model) and then sliced off a couple of inches from the bottom of each side of the chair, doubling the length of the feet.  Result??

I still had a tipping problem.  The seated person wasn’t in any danger but the experience of getting up from the chair could still be a bit startling–not a desirable quality for a chair!

I considered tossing the chair out and moving on to another project until a fellow member of Twin Cities Maker mentioned that a chair with a tipping problem might make a great rocker.  Thus began a new design!

So, next I carved a model rocker out of polystyrene foam.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached.

Here the foam rocker is taped to the table to approximate how it would look once attached. The paint chip that I have taped to the side is a color I considered for the chair.

Determining the arc of the rockers turned out to be quite a research project.  Eventually, I found a simple formula for finding the length of the radius of the circle from which the arc should be drawn.  That is seat height x pi.  I brought my model and 2 tubes to a steel-bending expert.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

One of my rockers is finishing its final bend. This machine has a limit of 2 in diameter metal.

Next, I made several steel plates to screw to the feet and tail of the chair so that I could connect the chair to the rockers.

Positioning the chair, just right, onto the rockers was challenging.  If there is a next time, I will get help holding the chair as I weld it to the rockers.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet.  You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

I propped the chair just as I wanted it to sit on the rockers so that I could design the hardware to connect the front feet. You can see on the left that I used a plate welded to a square rod to connect the tail.

 

Next week, I will discuss creating the exterior of the chair.

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Origami chair redesign: a plywood foundation

May 22nd, 2013 by SLSolarz

Over the next several weeks I will post photos of my rocking-chair project as it progresses.  I welcome your feedback and hope that you will help me find a name for this chair.

My design is inspired by 2 sources: the Frank Lloyd Wright Origami Chair and the Converse All Star sneaker.  I’ve always wanted to re-design the Origami Chair as an updated, cool lounger.  The Converse reference came later, after hours of observation, when it struck me (and my friend Ann who stopped by the Hack Factory for a critique session), that my placement of masking tape around the rockers was reminiscent of a pair of red sneakers (more on this in a future post).

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

This probably looks like a simple chair to make but there are no right angles so it was tough!

A few years ago I made a large, black lacquered version of FLW’s Origami Chair and I kept one for my own home.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

My original, very large version of the origami chair.

Using the chair at my home, I started my new chair by tracing a pattern onto poster board.  Then, I made another pattern about 2/3 the size of the large one, tweaked the proportions and used that pattern to cut the plywood.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this.  It is a slow process for me.

I am interested in learning tips for sanding complicated shapes like this. It is a slow process for me.

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded...

The seat and back are carved from spray foam and covered in body filler then sanded, more body filler, then sanded…

Once I assembled the plywood pieces I carved an ergonomic seat and back out of spray foam.  To create a smooth surface, I covered the carved foam in body filler and then did a lot of sanding.

Next week I will discuss the main design problem with FLW’s Origami Chair and whether or not I solved it.

 

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