Emeco + Stanford present "The Chair"

12 students. 10 weeks. 3 cubic feet. 10 minutes. $300.

For the 2023 winter quarter, Emeco's Jaye Buchbinder returned to her alma mater as an adjunct lecturer to coach the students of Stanford's course ME263 "The Chair", where students design and fabricate a chair in a process informed and supported by historical reference, anthropometrics, form studies, user testing, material investigations, and workshops.

Stanford ME263 The Chair, class of 2023 together with lecturers John Edmak, Craig Milroy and Emeco's Jaye Buchbinder.

ME263 - The Chair

By John Edmak, Lecturer

Most of the design classes at Stanford require students to undertake multiple projects during the quarter, which means that there is very limited opportunity for students to iterate repeatedly on any given design. ME263: The Chair was created to provide students with an opportunity to work intensively on a single project over the course of the quarter, and to bring their projects to a high degree of finish. 

Chairs were chosen as the focus for the class because they afford a remarkably rich set of design and fabrication challenges. A successful chair design requires adroit integration of the functional (ergonomics and purpose), the technical (structure and materials) and the formal (aesthetics, and relation to surroundings). Perhaps it is for these reasons that designing a chair has been a kind of rite of passage for designers and architects for more than a century. 

This year we introduced two new constraints to the design requirements: 1) the chair must be able to be collapsed or disassembled to fit into a rectangular volume no greater than three cubic feet, and 2) the total cost of materials for prototypes and the final chair would be provided by the department, and must not exceed $300. 

The purpose of the collapsing/disassembling constraint was to encourage the students to apply their mechanical engineering skills (the class is taught out of the ME department), and to result in chairs that would be less burdensome to students—who are likely to be entering into a highly nomadic phase in their lives. 

The reason for the department-provided $300 was to ensure access to the class for all students regardless of their financial means. The rather modest allocation meant that the students had to be extremely resourceful in their use of materials.

by Carl Schoeller

This chair is driven by intentionality and minimalism; an end product that is beautiful in any state. It takes less than twenty seconds to (toollessly) transform from a rectangular board of wood, to an object that commands a room. Great care was taken to ensure the woodgrain is consistent, to always looks like a continuous plank both in its neutral form and then bent into a seemingly impossible shape.

Materials: 1075 Spring Steel, 5/4 Sapele Hardwood

by Lauren Taylor

Crest is an exploration of the intersection between designer aesthetics and flat-packability. It evokes an eye-catching profile within the constraints of 2.5-dimensional shapes that can stack compactly. As an engineer and mechanical designer, I challenged myself to focus as much as I could on the chair’s aesthetics and keep the assembly complexity to a minimum. The tension between the curvature of the legs, arms, and back elicits the push and pull of a cresting wave or rolling mountains.

Materials: Walnut, Brass Fasteners, Velvet

Dragonfly Chair
by Cameron Haynesworth

A comfortable, casual, lounge chair that elegantly incorporates mechanisms for collapsibility.

Materials: Birch Plywood, Sapele, Stainless Steel

by Antonio Medina Perez

Nido is a chair designed to explore the interplay between the geometric and the organic. Nido, meaning ‘nest’ in Spanish, is constructed with 50 uniquely crafted wooden legs, connected at two pivot points which afford the ability to lay flat or fold into its unique form. Like a nest, the chair is an accomplishment of engineering that creates a meaning larger than the sum of its wood. The entirely wooden aesthetic of the Nido chair serves to evoke a sense of home, although with a new take on the familiar wooden relaxation chair.

Materials: Douglas Fir, Brass Hardware, Aluminum Tube

by Kyra Pelton

My main source of inspiration for this project was the idea of suspension. I wanted my chair to feel like you were suspended in air - imbuing comfortable elegance.

Materials: Steel tubing, Walnut, Leather

by Nicholas Pyun

A stylish and comfortable seating option designed to evoke a beachy atmosphere in any workspace. The Sea-Sweet chair combines the design of the traditional beach lounger with the professional aesthetic that you would see in an executive office environment.

Materials: Steel tubing, Nylon fabric, Polyester lacing, Steel hinges

by Olivia Testa

Lai is a French word that captures the meaning of the word saga. While the primary intent of my design was to create a chair especially built for reading and long term lounging, the name of my piece also captures the growth and experimentation carried out along the process. I am greatly inspired by the human centered design of furniture and the opportunity to transform a space through unique and high fidelity pieces.

Materials: Red Oak, Brass Hardware, Pine, Walnut, Cane, Fabric

The Obelo Lounge
by L'Nard E.T. Tufts II

Masterfully blending modernist simplicity and traditional ingenuity, the Obelo Lounge One draws inspiration from Le Corbusier’s iconic LC4 Chaise Lounge and chaises à palabre africaines (African palaver chairs) used by kings across the continent, evoking a balance of sophistication and leisure. As one floats upon its confident stance, minimalist design, and warm materiality, the Obelo Lounge One adds a statement of elegance and comfort to any home or office.

Materials: Cherry wood, Steel, Carbon

by Alec Manko

Like a stack of balanced pebbles Koishi is about harmony and suspension; complementing details of different pieces coming together to complete a whole.

Materials: Baltic Birch ply, Brass hardware, Steel sheet, Steel fasteners, Rubber washers

by Rachel Leou

No home is complete without a spot that is uniquely yours. Whether that be your favorite seat on your couch or the niche in your bed that lulls you to sleep. I designed Dune to be that spot for me.

Materials: Birch plywood, Sapele hardwood, Bolts, Brass inserts

by Edan Reches

SplitBark is a unique take on the traditional auditorium folding chair. SplitBark strives to create the illusion of suspended seating, a broken, or perhaps “split” chair, its feet, seat and backrest divided into curved sections along the center seam. I tend to strive towards experimentation with light, exploring contrast between shadows, transparancy, and translucency. SplitBark draws its name from an armor set in a childhood video game, named after the broken bark that formed a sturdy protective coat around its wearer. My chair does not protect anyone as armor, but rather offers a place to sit with a modest swiveling backrest for “comfort.”

Materials: African Mahogany, Deep Pour Epoxy Resin, Brass Hardware

The Nile
by Calli Taitz

“The Nile” elicits imagery of the sun setting over the Nile river on a warm day. Inspired by Egyptian headdress, the chair evokes the essence of royalty and is a modern take on a Pharaoh’s throne.

Materials: Maple, Birch, Pine, and Resin

Stanford University's course "ME263 The Chair" was recently showcased at Emeco House in Venice, CA