IN PICTURES: 7 local designers rise to the challenge of creating eco-chic seats

14 August 2017 - 11:36
By Roberta Thatcher
Hardwood Chair by James Mudge.
Image: Supplied Hardwood Chair by James Mudge.

Sunday Times Home was proud to present the ‘Seed to Seat’ furniture initiative at the 100% Design South Africa exhibition in Joburg in August.

Seed to Seat was conceived by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) with the dual purpose of promoting American hardwoods and encouraging designers to track the sustainability of the pieces they make.

The innovative project has been running internationally for a few years already, and with the likes of design giants Sou Fujimoto, Norman Foster and Paul Smith collaborating, it’s clear just how highly esteemed the initiative is.

For the inaugural South Africa Seed to Seat project, seven top local designers were given a simple brief: create ‘something to sit on’ using a selection of four American hardwood species.

The only rule was that during the manufacturing process, all materials, energy usage, transport and wastage had to be recorded to assess the full environmental impact of each design.

Here's what they came up with:

1. Hardwood Chair by James Mudge

The Hardwood Chair (pictured above) was designed to use minimal timber and has striking yet classic lines. It’s Scandi-influence is blended with Mudge’s signature style, giving it a clean, contemporary aesthetic which perfectly suits the tulipwood used. It was manufactured using traditional jointing techniques - no screws needed!

Meraki Daybed by Laurie Wiid van Heerden.
Image: Supplied Meraki Daybed by Laurie Wiid van Heerden.

2. Meraki Daybed by Laurie Wiid van Heerden

For the Meraki Daybed, which was made using cork and American soft maple, Wiid van Heerden decided to add modern, geometric shapes to traditional African furniture. The shape and concept for the headrest was inspired by Senufo furniture from West Africa. 

Flow Stool by Minima.
Image: Supplied Flow Stool by Minima.

3. Flow Stool by Minima

The sculptural Red Oak Flow Stool was conceived by Jacques Cronje as an intersection of two forms. From below, the angular supporting structure is akin to columns holding up a bridge, while from above, the human form is softly curved to create an inviting seat.

The Blue Chair by Dokter
Image: Supplied The Blue Chair by Dokter

4. The Blue Chair by Dokter and Misses

To celebrate their 10-year design anniversary, multi-disciplinary product design company, Dokter and Misses, presented The Blue Chair, a sustainable re-imaging of the very first chair they designed in 2007, this time made from tulipwood rather than the original steel. 

Eve Chair by Andrew Dominic.
Image: Supplied Eve Chair by Andrew Dominic.

5. Eve chair by Andrew Dominic

The Eve chair is a perfect balance of antique and contemporary styling, thanks to a pared down version of a classic cabriole leg combined with an ergonomic backrest.

As curves are 'thirsty' on timber, Dominic was happy to use sustainably-managed American hardwoods, in this case ebonised cherrywood.

Going forward, these chairs will be made to order in American ash, cherry, oak or walnut, with the option of an upholstered version available.

6. Playbench 2 by David Krynauw

The creation of the playful Playbench 2 used special production techniques, which allowed David Krynauw to be open-minded in terms of the scale and design of his work. The design started with a hand sketch, which ended up as a living, moving object perfectly sculpted from Red Oak that sees three circles coming together.

Playbench 2 by David Krynauw.
Image: Supplied Playbench 2 by David Krynauw.

7. DEM by Guideline

Made from lightweight tulipwood, the clean-lined DEM chair was created as an event seating solution. Comfortable and durable, this cost-effective stacking chair is a sustainable alternative to widely used plastic or aluminium products.