ken horii


RISD Foundations Class: Spatial Design with Ken Horii

Assignment: Create a modular unit that, when used in groups of at least 6, can create three different chair like configurations. This project continues for roughly six weeks, thus requiring your preliminary modular unit to be further developed 6 times. Something like that. It becomes a blur after a few sleepless nights. With each development, you must create at least six copies of each after a certain point.

Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of all of my prototypes, and I reused a lot of the previous ones to develop the next ones. However, I can tell you that this modular unit went through a lot of different transformations. It was once a square with three different levels falling from it. At another point it was hollow and small. Then, it became larger, but in its hollow state it could not support any weight. Thus, an accordion was introduced. With this addition, came an opportunity for portability via compression. It was able to fold down to half its size, with the accordion-like parts being able to be compressed and packed in with flaps and tabs. However, it was impractical as it took far too long to make, costed too much, gave way to error to easily, and was not worth it for the fact that its compressed form did not actually give way to more configurations, but became a burden given its weight when compressed into a denser form. And so, the accordion remained for support, but in a permanent open state. In said state, a single modular unit supports at least 200 pounds.

The final connections relied on nesting and tabs, with even the large to and bottoms square surfaces being able to disconnect from their slots and become larger tabs themselves, thus being sandwiched between another large slot and the accordion-like center. The tension and friction of this connection was particularly strong and thus made things like full backrests and two person couches possible. Although tedious, i wanted these tabs and slots so i would have as many possibilities for connections as possible so that I could explore the form itself when I went to configure my chairs.

Thus, we are brought to the use of ratios. There was also a lot of play with ratios here. Every measurement was either in whole, third, or half units so that things would fit well both functionally and aesthetically when configured into a chair.

Also, I put a lot of blood and love into this so hording was inevitable.

Photo Credits: Sara Dunn, Olivia Stephens, Caitlin Walker.