Designing Something New
With my latest contract I was asked to make 8 of my Walnut bar stools with metal foot pads and 8 chairs to go with them for an IPIC theater in Texas. If you don't know what an IPIC theater is, it's a restaurant-slash-movie theater. The lobby serves as a restaurant with full bar to fill you up and then off to the movie lounging in large armchair recliners. I bet they even use real butter in the popcorn. I had no idea going to the movie theater could be so opulent.
There was a slight problem with the order, I had not designed any chairs to go with the bar stools.
So I was tasked with a new design to complete the order.
It starts with a drawing.
The photo above is a rendering of the chair to be made. Once approved I had to figure out how to make it.
I like to draw up full sized blue prints, it helps when making patterns. I can get my angles and heights correct.
I then build a mock up in pine or cedar to test the sit of the chair. With this design I ended up moving the front legs in and attaching them similar to a Windsor chair, with a through tenon with wedge. I like the back leg of this design, but I wanted to do something new. I have been toying around with tapered lamination's and I thought this would be a great vehicle to test it out on.
I built a form with the front profile of the back leg fut out. I run about 16 1/8" slats through my sander with a sled to give them a taper, then dry clamp them to the form and trace out the back of the leg on the corresponding part of the form.
Next was the back rest.. I usually cooper the bar stools to accommodate the tenons that rest in the seat, but there was no need for that here so I built another beast of a form to use bent lamination again for the back rest. The rest will sit against the back legs and be screwed or doweled in place.
The seat is going to be a fully sculpted 2" thick slab, which is a bit overkill for a cafe style dining chair, but I think it will play well off the luxurious atmosphere they are to be housed in.
Designing a chair is a simple process, but it takes patience and tinkering until you get what you want. These chairs would not have come about without the request, but I am glad that I made them as I think they will be well received. I look forward to making many more of them. I intend to try a few with upholstered seat as well.
It took about a week and a half to fine tune the design for the chair, which is a bit mad considering I am on a deadline, but it was worth it.
For me the design experience is the most fun part of what I do and every time a new piece is thought up it turns into a journey of tweaking the design a little bit every time a run is made until I can't think of anything I want to do different.
I think these chairs will be one of my favorites.