Steelwood Chair: Perimeters

Surprisingly, the final prototype—which embodied the chair down to every radius—was not metal but plastic. “To make a one-off shape like that out of metal,” says Perazza, “requires a kind of manpower that no longer exists in Italy—–hand-banging shapes out of sheet metal is a disappearing craft. We had a guy who did that but he retired.” Though the Bouroullecs had iterated the chair back in many sturdy forms, the final 1:1 prototypes were made by Magis model makers in plastic, and not for sitting. But they were essential.

This is the chair-back after the first tool has stamped out the rough shape. The bolt holes for attaching the legs are punched out during this phase and the edges of the steel are coined, or softened.

“As soon as you get the prototype you discover all kinds of things that you can’t otherwise see,” explains Bouroullec. “The first plastic 1:1 was really good but not subtle enough around some curved details, so we made one more.”

The second tool in the manufacture of the Steelwood chair, deforms the edges of the metal to form perpendicular folds. These folds create smooth surfaces along the back, and provide the basis for the armrests.

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