A rising Swedish designer whose work pulls from street culture, fashion and maximalism, Gustav Winsth has been a fan of the VR software Gravity Sketch since he discovered it a few years ago in a video about Adidas sneaker designs. It wasn’t long before Winsth’s digital experiments caught the attention of Scandi furniture brand Lammhults, which recently tapped him for a year-long VR design collaboration. The outcome is the swelling Bloat sofa, a conceptual prototype that made its IRL debut during Stockholm Design Week.
Nearly a year in the making, Bloat began with Winsth pinning reference photos to the walls of a virtual workroom in Gravity Sketch. Some images showed Lammhults’ tubular 1968 S70 seating collection, while others featured items of oversized clothing. Based on these initial inspiration shots, Winsth then started to draw — first completing paper sketches, then tracing them into the VR world using a headset and hand-held controllers.
From there, the real experiments began. “In Gravity Sketch, I can manipulate different control points (also known as NURBSs) or extrude a 3D surface directly from my lines,” Winsth explains. By exploring the sofa from every angle, he test-drove different design moves, even employing virtual “dummies” to assess its proportions against diverse body types.
After he had a basic form that he was happy with, Winsth moved to 3D CAD software SolidWorks (which affords more precision for specific dimensions and angles) to fine-tune the sofa’s frame using the parameters of chunky 40-millimetre steel tubing. He then built up the cushions back in Gravity Sketch, tweaking them to resemble the bulges of a puffer jacket, the frame taking the place of seams.
Because Winsth had locked down the shape and dimensions in VR, Lammhults could skip many of the usual early prototyping stages. Instead, the company built just two physical models based on Winsth’s 3D files. At this stage, the designer turned his attention to materiality, seeking out a vegan leather with enough give to accommodate Bloat’s folds and curves. Displayed this February at Stockholm Design Week, the outcome was a swelling success.
At the end of the design process, Winsth walked the Lammhults design team through each step to get them comfortable with using headsets and hand-held controllers as part of their own workflow. And while there are no current plans to put the Bloat sofa into physical production, maybe it will turn up in a Lammhults showroom in the metaverse. We’ll all be wearing headsets soon anyway.
Through his VR headset, designer Gustav Winsth reinterprets a quilted jacket to create a bulging sofa.