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ARC13 Award winner the Well Proven Chair

Awarded by Dutch publishers de Architect, the ARC13 award for Chair Design went to Van Aubel & Shaw for the Well Proven Chair.

By Katie Dominy / 28-11-2013

This Tuesday night at the ARC13 Awards ceremony in Rotterdam, Marjan Van Aubel and Jamie Shaw won the ARC13 Chair Design Award for their Well Proven Chair.

The Well Proven Chair was designed while Van Aubel and Shaw were both studying at the Royal College of Art, London and working on a college project for the American Hardwood Export Council. The duo researched the production of wood furniture and found that between 50% and 80% of raw timber ends up as waste due to sawdust, chippings and shavings. The designers combined this waste with a bio-resin so that it formed a sludgy mixture that expands into a solid; it can expand up to 700% with the addition of water and/or higher temperatures. Used as the seat shell, the rough surface contrasts with the smooth turned chair legs in ash. 

The chair appeared in when the duo’s creation was shortlisted for London’s Design Museum’s Designs of the Year 2013 (read it here). The ARC13 jury explains its reasons for choosing it: ‘The Well Proven Chair was the most innovative design due to its conceptual point of departure. In addition, the study and use of new materials in the design is as interesting as it is innovative. The material consists of wood chips combined with a bio-resin, resulting in a lightweight yet durable material. This material has the potential to also be used for other purposes.’

The other five finalists shortlisted for the Chair Design Award include the Folding Air by Studio Nic Roex. Conceived as a mobile workspace, Folding Air incorporates chair and desk into one and can easily transported around the office. The studio explains how the design is seen as more ‘fun’ and ‘inspiring’ by employees, as well as being an efficient space saver for the company.

An interesting finalist is the L6 Chair designed by Leonard Spruit, who is a recent graduate from the Hout en Meubileringscollege (Wood and Furniture college) in Amsterdam. The chair gets its name from the 6 L-shaped elements that make up the frame. Spruit explains further: ‘The L's are very lightly dimensionalised and can be nested. This makes it possible to create an average of 2.5 chairs out of a single square meter of plywood. The chair is super slim and because of it, only weighs 1850 grams. It has been designed in such a way that the elements are under tension. This makes the chair much stiffer, sturdier and more stable than one would expect.

‘During the production of the chair a new technique is used - water cutting. By using a water cutter no material is lost due to sawing, making for a more efficient manufacturing process, as all separate elements can be made by a single machine. The innovative design of the L6 Chair also provides advantages for shipping. For example, imagine that one chair can be shipped in a cardboard box measuring 60 x 40 x 40 cm, with a volume of just 10 litres and a weight of about 2 kilos. This creates a very durable and widely available product.” L6 can also found on the new crowdfunding site CrowdyHousefeatured recently on

Buigstoel  (Bendy chair) by Claire de Zoete has an ash frame with plywood seat and backrest. Grooves cut into the plywood cause both seat and backrest to be much more pliable and flexible and thus more comfortable. Void(wood) by Pieter and Thijs Bedaux is also made from plywood, but this time the design uses both 2D and 3D techniques  - ‘the bodywork of the chair is simultaneously moulded as a mass and wrapped in cut-out planes to become a self-sustaining load-bearing wooden shell.’ The final design, OTTO by Mischa Vos, is made from a new thermo-formable wood by Finnish company UPM Grada and is a playful seat in the form of the figure 8 designed for children.

ARC13 Chair Design Award is an initiative of Koninklijke Ahrend and de Architect.

1 - Van Aubel and Jamie Shaw win the ARC13 Award Chair Design Photographer: Hans de Vries
2 –Well Proven Chair, Van Aubel & Shaw 
3 - Folding Air, Studio Nic Roex
4 – L6, Leonard Spruit
5 – Buigstoel, Claire de Zoete
6 - Void(wood), Pieter & Thijs Bedaux
7 – OTTO, Mischa Vos

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