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Steelwood Chair: Shear and Coin

The metal-punching facility is down the road from the Magis headquarters in Motta di Livenza, in northeastern Italy.
magis steelwood chair sheet steel
The sheet steel arrives, its thickness and carbon content selected to suit a process that features tension, compression, and deformation.

Steel sheets, 191⁄2 inches high, 45 inches wide, and less than 1⁄16-inch thick, undergo a process that was developed during three years of collaboration between Magis, the production team, and the Bouroullecs. “When we made the initial drawings, we expected a lot from this kind of technique,” says Erwan Bouroullec, remembering the chair’s early days. “We were thinking about old cars made from punched metal and their fine organic shapes. We made a drawing—–unsure of whether the process would allow it—–and sent it to Italy. They said, ‘Yes, it’s possible.’”

A machine presses a sheet of metal against a mold with immense force, changing the shape by cutting, folding, bending, or making holes. Eight tools form the chair back in eight minutes. The first steps are shearing; cutting out openings for the back and four bolt holes; and coining, softening the edges of the cuts as on a coin. Designing the process required many models. “They made prototypes about assembly, material, and resistance,” says Bouroullec. “On our side, we made more mockups to find the right shape, the right contour, and the character of the chair.”

  • <h2><a href="http://www.dwell.com/articles/steelwood-chair.html">The Steelwood Chair</a></h2><p></p>Magis' Steelwood chair, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, begins its life as a sheet of steel in an Italian factory. <p></p><p></p>Featured in the <a

    Steelwood Chair

    Magis—The Steelwood chair from Magis is a product of experience—the suppliers who punch the sheet metal for the back, which adroitly supports four legs and a beech wood seat, are among Italy’s most skilled metalworkers. Dwell talked with the manufacturers and the designers, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and learned, among other things, that the chair is designed for easy disassembly. The two materials—metal and wood—can be separated by undoing a few screws and recycled according to type.

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