Sketch Chair

So we’ve been featuring a lot of chairs on this blog, a range of discarded, recycled, paper, art, sculptures and chairs that are simply beautifully made in our Around the World in 80 Chairs series. These designs are bound to provoke inspiration for creative minds, so here is a tool that could help you design your own chairs. The London design studio Diatom have developed a software tool that actually allows you to sketch your own chair.

Sketch Chair uses a Java 2D tool with which you can draw and design your own chair in a simple and easy to use way. First you draw the chair, you can customise existing templates or design your own.

Before your design is complete the programme conducts a test run of the chair which simulates whether the chair is sturdy and balanced. It ensures the functionality of the chair before you order it to be built. The programme then produces the separate pieces which will make up the chair (see below). The final template for the items can be sent directly to an online factory (at your own request) such as Ponoko or 100kgarages and will be made especially for you.

The parts are then delivered by post and can be fully assembled without glue or tools as the pieces are designed to fit together perfectly – a bit like a puzzle.

You can print out your design and cut out and assemble miniature models to get an idea of how the pieces fit together. Whole Web 2.0-like designed chairs can also be uploaded to for other users to load them into the sketch Chair programme and use as templates for further editing. (see diagram above)

The makers of Sketch Chair referred to it as a sort of ‘open-source IKEA store’, however this description would probably not do the project justice. Each chair can be created as a unique and design by creative people who may not have the complete skills of a designer but want to build something functional.

Unlike Ikea this programme allows individuals to add their own ideas and tastes to their furniture, without the expensive price tag of bespoke pieces.

Sketch Chair is financed by Kickstarter, an online crowd funding platform where users present their ideas and find financial backers for their creative projects. Sketch Chair, has already exceeded its goal by 170%, hardly surprising for such a fun and innovative project.

Upcycling, Downcycling, Recycling – What’s the Difference?

When I first heard the term ‘upcycle’ I thought people were talking about biking up a hill, when someone tried to explain the meaning of this new term I thought why not just stick to the word ‘recycle’. So is ‘upcycling’ really a word? If it is what is the difference between ‘upcycling’ and ‘recycling’??

Let me explain a bit about the meaning of upcycling. Generally there are two ways to recycle – upcycling and downcycling. Upcycling aims to make use of existing materials, reusing these in a way that will add value without using up new raw materials.

This is the opposite of downcycling which involves extracting valuable materials from the product to create a lower quality result. Recycling on an industrial scale usually consists of the latter, but upcycling is becoming more popular especially among young artists and designers.

I am even getting the bug at home, converting old pieces of furniture into shelving or books into chair legs. My flatmate obviously stops me at a point to prevent the house looking like a flea market, but you get the idea..

I’m trying my best at some DIY and creating some artistic pieces of practical furniture. My personal favourite is our very own upcycled toilet/plant pot.

As the upcycling trend continues to spread, from furniture to fashion design, I am beginning to wonder whether I will ever have to shop again. I keep finding beautiful things in my own home I can make use of to make something quirky yet functional.

Working on the things you already have doesn’t only limit what you throw away but it also improves what you choose to keep.