Steelwood Chair: Cuts, Curves, Cuts
The tool that folds the curve of the back of the chair is the most dramatic, but it is no more essential than the others, which trim the edges, cut the holes, and add a final soft angle to the armrests.
The production design had its challenges. “Getting the edges trimmed just right was tricky,” says Perazza. “Another delicate moment was folding the U-shaped curve of the back, because you have to avoid getting creases in the contour.” Though the tooling is impossible to alter dramatically once it’s made, there is a touch of flexibility. “The tools consist of a lot of different parts fixed in a metal surface,” explains Bouroullec. “So it is possible to adapt them slightly”—–which they did, to stop the inner surface from buckling when bent.
“I am so respectful of the supplier,” he adds. “There is buckling, and they say, ‘We’re going to move this part slightly and it should solve the problem,’ and indeed, it solves the problem. It’s a bit like making a cake: You don’t make a calculation; you know what to do because you have experience. They have been developing highly complex shapes for decades. They are like incredible cooks.” The first production run made 5,000 chairs.