The 2013 judges picked Konstantin Grcic’s Bench B as the winner of this category. Here are this year’s nominees for the award, sponsored by Design Guild Mark
BODLEIAN LIBRARIES CHAIR
The winner of an Oxford University competition to design a reader’s chair for the Wilkinson Eyre-refurbished New Bodleian library, Barber Osgerby‘s chair beat entries from more than 60 design studios, including those by fellow finalists Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) and Matthew Hilton. The renowned design duo’s chair was designed to be light and easy to move around. Its semi-circular plan is intended to allow the sitter to move around comfortably while studying. Its form references previous Bodleian chairs, but has also drawn comparisons to the Daleks from Doctor Who.
Keystones is a set of plastic connectors that can join wood into a variety of furniture pieces, from coat stands to tables and chairs. The compact designs can be 3D-printed on location, or shipped cheaply and easily. The user can find the rest of the components – either standard wood lengths or ply – locally and then fabricate the furniture for themselves using basic tools or a CNC router, without the need for specialist joinery skills. Keystones’ designers, Mario Minale and Kuniko Maeda, say that they are interested in the effects of consumerism and how downloadable design can forge new possibilities that lie between mass production and individual craft.
OpenDesk is a platform for bringing consumers into direct contact with makers and designers. A buyer can choose which piece of furniture they want from files uploaded by individual designers, and select a local maker to complete the job. By cutting out the middle man, the founders of OpenDesk (three of whom are also responsible for the WikiHouse open-source construction set) say they plan to do to the mass furniture industry what Airbnb has done to tourism.
PROTOTYPE TABLE AND SOLO CHAIR
Architects Kersten Geers and David Van Severen’s limited-edition Solo chair is a take on Thonet’s famous 19th-century Walking Stick chair: a folding tripod with a surrealist quality. Instead of a hook, there is a small table, counterbalanced by a weight at the end of the leg. The chair was designed for an exhibition at Brussels gallery Maniera, for which the studio also prepared a series of tables, developed with engineer Arthur de Roover. Each table is made entirely in one material – polyester, aluminium or steel – which is extruded as angles for the frame and used as a sheet material to span the surface. The structural limitations of each material determine the size of the table, with the steel version 50 per cent bigger than the polyester one.
Tubo, for Brazilian brand TOG, is a furniture range designed with home-workers in mind. The flexible collection, which lies somewhere between home and office furniture, includes a bookcase on wheels, a desk with a small movable stand, a shelving unit and a chair with three types of base. The bucket seat of the Tubo chair is made from sheets of recycled Coke bottles, which are rolled and hot-pressed into a mould. The seat has impressive stability and a surface that resembles soft felt and comes in two shades of grey.