Brunette in Scandinavia
If Americans want to live the "American dream," they should go to Denmark.
-Richard Wilkinson (TEDGlobal Conference, 2011)
....Well I don't know about that, but if design students want to live the furniture dream, they should definitely go to Copenhagen.
Metal Swan Chair at Republic of Fritz Hansen - Designed by Arne Jacobson.
I spent this past summer in a land known for its tall blondes and bike riding; Copenhagen, Denmark. The program was dedicated to studying furniture design at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad and personally preparing for my Senior Integrated Project (IP). Denmark also happens to be the birthplace of the likes of Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm and Verner Panton among many, many others and a mecca for good design.
The program draws from schools all over the world, and most recently 3 students from A&D, for a 2 month intensive look into the history of Scandinavian furniture and traditional Danish building methods. It became the perfect place to put a new furniture obsession and love for veneer, begun in John Baird's "Building Furniture" 300-level Studio course, to good use.
The project was to build a chair out of exclusively 1mm (Metric, guys - Welcome to Europe!) sheets of beech veneer for all structural elements.
Here is a quick look at how it came together in just three weeks from sketchbook to exhibition.
Step One: Sketch like mad. Then sketch some more. Then make some sketch models. Then sketch more.
Step Two: Get a nice desk with a good view to make nice big 1:1 scale shop drawings.
Step Three: Make a template out of steel to bend into the eventual shape of your veneer chair.
Step Four: Take care of sharp edges at risk of harming yourself and others with evil metal splinters.
Step Four point Five: Don't be mad when you inevitably get metal splinters anyway.
Step Five: Fit metal template and backrest template together and admire work in famous "Scandinavian light."
Step Six: Add plywood bracing to keep metal template stiff and retain specific radii for each curve.
Step Seven: Spend hours drilling. Build arm muscles.
Step Eight: File down sharp edges on plywood, cover in plastic to protect glue from the mold and add cotton to create air channels for the vacuum to do its job.
Step 9: Cut veneer to overall shape of seat, leaving a few millimeters extra and add glue between each layer.
Step 10: Vacuum bag layered veneer onto newly-build mold, ask good friends/skilled Danes to help.
Step 11: Bake entire mold (still vacuum sealed) in giant oven in order to aid in release of water from the glue to speed drying time (approx. 30 minutes)
Step 12: Measure actual dimensions and cut raw veneer seat out with a jig saw.
Step 13: Repeat Steps Three to Twelve for backrest.
Step 14: Sand/File/Finish all surfaces and edges.
Step 15: Take photos. Model your own work (awkwardly) and wear fancy shoes.