Fig. 1 How can we add delight to the daily commute?
The brief was to develop a chair. The process, which began on the tube at rush hour, took me through an analysis of human behaviour and material exploration.
What if the ordinary was injected with the unexpected to spark interactions between strangers? To explore this question, I devised a series of experiments, designed to target the infrastructure of the underground. I found that by disrupting the setting and ritual of the commute with delightful interventions new behaviours can form. Playful scenarios that evoke a childlike state of mind were more successful at making people engage.
Fig. 2&3 A selection of design experiments aimed to spark interactions and understand the link between the setting and human behaviour.
Cardboard is a material that everyone grows up with. It is cheap, abundant and easy to work, the perfect building material for children and adults alike. My initial idea was to laminate coloured card to recreate the pattern commonly found on tube seats. Slicing the block along different planes formed new patterns, some geometric, and others more fluid like wood grain. The material itself had remarkable material properties. It is anisotropic, displaying high tensile stress parallel to the grain, but easily delaminated perpendicular to it. It is strong in torsion but has a high tendency to warp.
To reinforce the childlike interaction my chair took the shape of a swing for the tube. Carboard rings slip over the handrails and rotate to lock them in place. The seat was built with traditional woodworking techniques and the weight of the person is fully supported by cardboard. They are free to swing and sway as the train winds its way to its destination.
Fig. 8 The swing. Each board is constructed from 40 layers of coloured card and worked using woodwork techniques.