Inception Chair by Vivian Chiu 30.09.11


To be completely honest, it was a fluke. It was a very happy accident," says Vivian Chiu of her Inception chair.
A recent furniture design graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Chiu admits that the chair was the outcome of a short experimental project set by her tutors, designed and constructed in just four weeks. "I started doodling squares within squares. Then it came to me – a chair within a chair. But I didn't know what it was going to look like. I only had the measurements."

The Inception chair is composed of ten individual chair frames made from ash wood. They range from the standard adult size to the humorously small. Each chair has hand-cut grooves on the inside edges of the seat frame as well as pegs in the back. The mechanism works so that each peg fits into the groove of the frame that is one size bigger. The chair frames can be taken apart, but only when pieced together is the chair actually functional.

True to the interdisciplinary nature of the teaching that she received at RISD, Chiu believes that when the chair frames are apart, the piece can be viewed as a piece of sculpture. Its quirkiness goes even further when you think about the name of the chair. "My friend wanted me to call it the Matryoshka chair, as in the Russian dolls, but the Inception chair stuck. I think the chair is actually quite similar to the movie, Inception, because no one really knows what is happening at first look."

Unsurprisingly, the piece has already attracted considerable attention on the internet. Search for "chair" on Tumblr and half of the results that appear involve the Inception chair. "It was scary because I was still in school;
I hadn't graduated yet and I was still working on my final piece," Chiu says. "It has been my favourite project by far, but I really hope this is not the end of my 15 minutes of fame."




Vivian Chiu



Ayesha Kapila

quotes story

I started doodling squares within squares. Then it came to me – a chair within a chair

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