Why the Sketch Chair matters

How the all-female group Front Design combined cutting-edge 3D printing and motion-capture film in one chair
The Sketch Chair by the all female Front Design - featured in Chair: 500 Designs That Matter
The Sketch Chair by the all female Front Design - featured in Chair: 500 Designs That Matter

While for many of us the iconic designs of the Irish-born, Paris-based designer Eileen Gray exude an almost alchemical flair with materials and structure - her Transat Armchair is a masterful mix of Art Deco style and Bauhaus functionalism - on International Women's Day we're celebrating, instead, the work of a more contemporary design practice.

To create the incredibly complicated, but beautiful to behold, limited edition Sketch Chair, featured in our new book Chair: 500 Designs that Matter, an all-female group of Swedish designers, Front Design, combined two cutting-edge technologies: 3D printing and motion-capture film.

The Stockholm-based practice used motion-capture film to record a three-dimensional design, which was sketched with a specially made ‘pen’ device to make strokes in mid-air. Charlotte von der Lancken, Katja Sävström, Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren then transferred this file to a 3D printer normally used for racing car parts, using the Finnish manufacturer Alphaform for the printing.


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This extruded the chair, layer by layer, with little waste, from a liquid resin strengthened with tiny ceramic particles. From a limited edition of only three, its use as a chair is perhaps secondary to its conceptual nature, which pushes at the frontiers of art, design and technology.

Just like Eileen Gray who did not share a rigid aesthetic preoccupation with machine-age functionalism, (instead fusing it with the more sumptuous materiality of Art Deco), Front have created a piece of design worthy of the description art.

For more on Front Design's Sketch Chair and 499 others (including some great Eileen Gray designs) get Chair: 500 Designs that Matter.

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