Steelwood Chair: Cuts, Curves, Cuts

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.

This step in the process provides the most dramatic deformation of the steel thus far and gives the chair it's ultimate shape. Yet, it is also a delicate step–many adjustments had to be made to the tool in order to ensure that the metal was not creased.

“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.

Alignment is crucial every step of the way–holes, punched earlier in the process, are used to guide this press as it stamps out the armrests.

Eight tools and eight minutes after arriving at the factory as a sheet, the metal has become a finished Magis Steelwood chair.

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