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Beyond being a collection of seats, Roeland's Otten's alphabet chairs are more about what you want to (literally) communicate with the furniture you're sitting on.

By Jeanne Tan /asdf 01-06-2010

The story behind graphic designer Roeland Otten's ABChairs started about a decade ago with his graduation project from Design Academy Eindhoven. The initial concept for 'communicative furniture in public space' was put aside and then picked up a decade later for another project which - with the help of Fonds BKVB and Materiaalfonds - developed into a prototype series. 

ABChairs comprises 26 chairs each one representing a letter of the alphabet. "As a graphic designer it was a challenge to design these series of chairs that also had to form a consistent font (typeset)," Otten explains. "The forms of the characters arose from totally different rules where capital and cabinet are by each other depending what is best to sit on. I used sans serif, unless necessary (and then the radius of the serif corresponds to the curves of rounded letters) and as there were still quite some serifs needed, I decided to change the thickness of the lines significantly: 15 cm for vertical lines, 5cm for horizontal lines and 5 centimeters for the thickness of the material when used as the back of a chair." The seat height is either 46 or 80cm.

The prototypes are made from lacquered MDF however in the future, Otten hopes a manufacturer could produce them in recycled plastic so that the seats can be used in outdoor applications and larger interiors. A smaller version for children is in the pipeline.

"What's fun about these chairs is that you don't just buy set a chairs, but you also need to think about what word you would like to form and what you want to communicate with the chairs in that environment…"

ABChairs will be shown during '100 x Summer Design' in Almere on 6 June 2010, from 20 June until beginning of September in Gallery Majke Hüsstege in Den Bosch and during the Dutch Design Week 17-25 October in Eindhoven.

Photography: Bas Helbers

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