Please, take a seat...

Some of you asked me what chair i'm working on right now. I'll tell you at the end, but let me explain a bit first;

I have a weak spot for furniture that you can manipulate or transform depending your desired use. Think of extendable tables, folding chairs or camping gear that needs to be small, light weight yet practical to the max. The ingenuity and movement that some contain! I've seen tables that make my engineering heart speed up, but that's for another time. With this post i'll stick to chairs :)

Folding chairs have been around for a long long time. Modern day ones seem to do well everywhere. In conference halls, schools, tiny apartments or studio's... anywhere were a flexible use of space and seating area are at a premium. Fortunately some designers think again and come up with, not only practical cos stowable, but also fresh looking idea's about what a folding chair could be.

Take Robert van Embricqs, a young Dutch designer that created the rising chair. It has won The Wood challenge 2011 and thats no surprise. It transforms from a flat board into a comfortable seat with movement and repetitive shadows. A feature that pleases me most. Pictures with courtesy of Robert van Embricqs.

I wanted to show it to you all as it is a good example of what i was looking for to make in miniature. It's unusual and modern. But not really a woodworkers challenge to build. So in my search for a playful design to scale down i decided on this Clip Chair, designed by two Germans, Blasius Osko and Oliver Deichman. You can probably see the comparison and it is modern, foldable, original and actually really comfortable. I sat in a life size one cos I was fortunate to be able take measurements at the Amsterdam Interior Design Company MOOOI.   

I've made it a scale of 1:6 a few weeks ago to test out the construction and build. Because examining the real chair i foresaw a problem; it doesn't fully extends when opened. The design needs weight to expand to it's final shape and curve. I hoped with some tweaking i could obviate that issue. Since i've found out it is a characteristic of the design it keeps me from making another version in 1:12.

Still it was fun to build and a good looking piece. But that didn't detract from my wish to make a 1:12 folding chair. Researching them for the past few months or so a couple of classic designs kept returning. The most known is probably the X-chair, or better called the Savonarola chair, named after the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola. A classic that would fit in very well with the Tudor or Jacobean interior in some Dollhouses. 

Originally from the Roman era it was taken on by woodworkers from the 15th Century on. Variations occurred during time (too many to elaborate about here, but you may want read more here) and in the Renaissance it had a period of revival. The Metropolitan Museum has 10 early examples of these chairs in their collection, and it is this type of chair that i'm building right now:

I guess this picture (even at half stage) shows how much it resembles the qualities and features that some modern folding chairs contain as well. And why i find it a joy to build :)

Thank you, miniature friends, for taking the time to read all the way down. It turned out to be a rather long story. Enjoy the  weekend ahead!


  1. Ooh, now I can't wait to see more! I am always intrigued by mechanical furniture too :-)

    Enjoy the rest of the journey with this chair.

  2. Wat een prachtig project. Je stoel 1:6 ziet er prachtig uit. Succes met het 1"12 exemplaar dat er ook al indrukwekkend uitziet..

    Fijn weekend Xandra

  3. A good challenge. It will be interesting to follow your work.
    Hugs, Drora

  4. Oh Debora, it's wonderful! I dont know how you manage to concentrate!
    I love the Van Embricqs chair - so clever.
    have a great weekend x

  5. Geniales!! esperando ver mas pronto!!

  6. Wow, That's wonderful. Researching it must have been fun as well as finding out how to make it! Looking forward to more photos...

  7. Hello Debora,
    You really are a miniature genius. I am always, always, blown away by your fantastic design. I loved hearing about these fabulous chairs and your work is excellent.
    Big hug,

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. The issue of the modern miniature chair not unfolding is friction. In the full size chair weight is overcoming the friction. Therefore address the friction to resolve the problems.

      I think the issue on the modern chair could be resolved by a change in materials for the joint spacers. If you are making them out of wood you are inducing a lot of friction between adjoining parts, both the wood and the rod.

      But if you were to make the spacers from a slippery plastic such as Delrin or UHMW you might get a chair that works. It would change the look as the spacers will be a different color than the wood pieces.

      As to metals....brass is called a self lubricating metal. Brass rods, brass washers, spacers etc are more slippery in their natural properties than is copper, aluminum and other metals. So changing over to a brass rod will reduce friction.

      A carbon fiber rod might also work. They are made with epoxy as a binder and epoxy is slippery. The carbon fiber rod will be less prone to getting a permanent kink bent into it. A kink in the wire would cause a permanent issue in folding and unfolding the chair.

      Of course you might also need to adjust your hole size for the rods to be somewhat larger than the rod but not overly sloppy to further reduce friction.

  9. blijf me verbazen over je houtbewerkings kunsten ;) weer helemaal mooi deborah ,altijd een plezier om je site te bezoeken !!

  10. Beautiful, intriguing and inspiring! Can't wait to see more---

  11. I love the idea of furniture that can be transformed like this. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out =0)

  12. I can't even imagine trying to make something that complicated --you are the total goddess of miniatures!

  13. Dat is een prachtige stoel, Debora.
    Bedankt voor een heel interessante post.
    Wat een geduld heb je om zoveel tijd in een miniatuur te stoppen, chapeau hoor.


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