Have a Seat in Student-Designed Chairs
Galloway, N.J. – What makes a chair a chair? Can a chair also be art? Can an artistic chair also be functional and comfortable?
Students in Associate Professor of Art Jedediah Morfit’ s class “The Designed Object” were charged with not just designing a chair, but also building and assembling it, using the university’s CNC router.
“They had to take it from a flat design, to a foam core model, then a full 3-D product in plywood,” Morfit said. “And then they had to assemble it.”
The results are on display in the lounge area in lower K wing, where visitors are invited to “Have a Seat” and try them out. Some designs are basic, others more elaborate. All are functional chairs.
William “Billy” Otte of Manahawkin, an illustration major, said he perused some ideas online and opted for a curved chair modeled in the style of architect Frank Gehry’s “wiggle” side chair.
“I wanted something with curves,” Otte said. “And it was built like a puzzle, so we could get as many pieces as possible out of one sheet of wood.”
Adelina Andrews of Old Bridge, who is also an illustration major, created a chair with a relatively simple design, but intricate engraving on both sides.
“I was playing around with shapes,” she said. “I like old Victorian chairs, and I didn’t want mine to be just shapes, so I added the engraving.”
Morfit said actually building the chairs taught the students to think about their function as well as their form. Associate Professor of Psychology Mark Berg also audited the course, and is now working with Morfit to integrate ideas of the psychology of design and the human factors that play into design such as comfort, ergonomics, color and ease of use.
Morfit said many of the students thought of changes they would make once they sat in their chairs.
Otte said he envisioned his chair as being wider.
“I intended it to be more like a real chair,” he said.
“It really made me think about chairs, and how they are designed,” Andrews said.
The chairs are not the only 3-D projects Morfit has initiated. Students also created mini-busts of themselves using a 3-D printer. The heads are on display in the Arts and Sciences building. Morfit said the projects demonstrate how digital tools are being integrated into the arts curriculum.
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