As the product of a collaborative effort between furniture design studio Carl Hansen & Søn and Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, Hon. FAIA, the Dream Chair appears to push the limits of wood construction. “Sometimes you have to bend the laws of nature,” says Jesper Bruun, director of research and development for the Danish furniture maker. “Wood is in our DNA, so of course we wanted to make it in wood.”
Ando thought similarly, Bruun says. Known for his use of concrete and light in Minimalist design, Ando choose wood for his tribute piece to Carl Hansen & Søn’s founder and iconic furniture designer Hans J. Wegner. The chair’s shell, which is 10 millimeters thick, and its base, which varies between 10mm and 27mm thick, are made of a treated plywood veneer that is steam pressed at up to 120 C for as long as 50 minutes. The challenge was making the veneer wide enough and with a deep enough curve to meet Ando’s specifications. “In the end, we adjusted a little here and a little there and succeeded in moving the limits of the material,” Bruun says. “We ended up with something that was not seen in the market before.”
Early iterations of the design called for the backrest to lean back at a wider angle, Bruun says, which his studio thought could limit the piece’s functionality in spaces such as lobbies or hotel rooms. The collaborative design team decided to decrease its angle and added an adjustable neck support.
The resulting two-piece construction, connected by stainless steel connectors, is equal parts chair and sculpture. The process of pressing, milling, and finishing the chair takes between 12 and 15 hours, Bruun says, before the addition of the optional upholstery (shown).
Still, the chair is not without signature styling by the architect known for such works as the Ibaraki Kasugaoka Church, or “Church of Light” (shown), in Osaka, Japan, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas. The forms are more subtle here, though. A recurring oval in the headrest, lower lumbar area, and base adds an element of continuity, while a gently curved base complements the seat’s cantilever.
“Hans J. Wegner was very interested in pushing the limits of what is possible with wood,” Bruun says. “Mr. Ando also wanted to make something that wasn’t made before and to push the limits.”
Photo courtesy Flickr user mith17 via a Creative Commons license.