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Furniture has been a favourite area for design projects since the beginning of design technology. Furniture is one of the functional items that all of us need. We have put more effort than any other species on the planet into not lying in the mud.

Once we accept this basic design requirement we can then start to address the other aspects of furniture and its requirements if you will pardon the pun "From The Ground Up"

This project is tagged at all levels as its purpose is primarily to be an 'agent provocateur'. It is here to try to promote new thinking and help with the process of generating ideas.

At keystage 3 I would expect the project to be narrowed down to a relatively localised brief. Possibly for the design of a playstation holder or a hand held device charging rack or desk holder. I would be using the project not to make a finished artifact but to begin building the pupils modelling skills. We often forget that a good model can highlight many problems that we may not have perceived at the drawing stage. At Boxford we have proved this in real life with one of our recent machine developments, the production of a Zcorp prototype allowed us to notice that a tin cover would foul the new part under certain circumstances and we were able to design out the problem before the first real component was manufactured. This shortcutting of problems is vital to the pace of modern industry.

At keystage 4 I would add a research and short portfolio production section asking the students to look into the area of Nomadic furniture and its design. Nomadic people have very specific problems the furniture must be serviceable and collapsible to be easily carried. On the web there are many examples of the ingenuity that Nomadic people have employed to make serviceable but portable solutions. As you get further into the project ask the pupils where they think the same thinking would apply to modern life, I would expect pupils to get the camping and caravanning market but the real link is with the likes of Ikea. Their furniture is designed on Nomadic lines far more than is at first apparent not because of the requirements of the end user but from the requirement of the manufacturer. Traditional furniture was bought complete and delivered by the shop, now we feel no hardship in cramming the latest acquisition in the back of the car with the kids and building the whole project ourselves at home. There is a whole area of study of the history of the flat pack and now we are extending the idea to houses this would function as an extension task for any G&T pupils.

At AS level I would suggest you introduce a brief that would have additional value for students that may go on to university. I would start with the research into Nomadic furniture and then give them a brief of creating a whole set of student furniture from heavy corrugated cardboard. The brief would be to create structures that are light can be easily compacted and moved, students in their first year often have to vacate halls during holidays so portability and low cost can be a valuable attribute for all their possessions.

Should you not be able to get access to sufficient cardboard in the school which is rare, second hand box companies are a very useful source of large multiple ply cardboard boxes or sheets they often have boxes that they cannot use and would be glad not to have to pay for disposal. It is worth making pupils aware of this resource as they can source their own materials in the future should they embrace this solution.

 

Resources
 

 

The Round Table is a little trip out into Modernism where the shape controls the design.

The chair looses some comfort as the ring back does catch you in the spine but the style makes the unit look like a single item that then reveals it's functionality.

It is an example of style over functionality, after completing the design below I did wonder about changing the space behind the chair into a shelf to take paperbacks, making this a reading chair but did then wonder how easy it would be to move the chair once it was full of books.

Perhaps a restriction of ten to twenty books would make this advancement work, If that was to be done then a second look at comfort would need to be undertaken. I may revisit this project in the future.

 

Round Table

Table and two chairs in rest position.

 

One Chair

Table with one chair pulled out

Two Chairs

Table with both chairs pulled out.

 

top

The table top and base are made from one sheet unfortunately there were no parts that could be dropped into the white space that would reduce the overall sheet count.

 

Leg

The centre column is made to go together and make a perfect square centre column.

 

Seat

The chairs are made from two sheets each holding half of the parts the controlling factor is the overall size of the chair and the seat.

Back

In making this project a number of prototypes were made these were the last two.

All the prototypes were made from 3mm MDF on the laser cutter, I have found that using the dot facility makes the best edges.

I chose 3mm MDF as this allows me to reduce the drawings by .25 to ensure that what works in 3mm will work in the full sized version.

 

The penultimate prototype proved that all the pieces went together but the legs were a little ungainly so they were redesigned and a final prototype produced.

 

Penultimate

The legs of the almost finished design. As I looked at the legs I was reminded of birds, or cart horses, they were designed for strength and would deliver that strength, but it was obvious that the strength was only required at the top in the same way a bridge spreads the load into its pillars.

I also added a mortice to the front edge of the seat.

Legs

The final prototype with the thinned out legs.

Last Prototype

 

 

Round Table File In Winrar Format - Download

Round Table Files in WinZip Format - Download