An Origami-Inspired Chair by Rolf Benz

An Origami-Inspired Chair by Rolf Benz

Designed by Formstelle, the 580 chair has a bent wood frame that evokes a paper crane. Here, we look at the three essential steps of its design process. 

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1  Looks Good on Paper
Given carte blanche by German manufacturer Rolf Benz to envision an armchair, Claudia Kleine and Jörg Kürschner of Munich studio Formstelle looked to origami to inspire the open frame that defines their 580 chair. “The famous image of the crane served as the formal motif,” say Kleine and Kürschner of the reclining seat, which mixes retro styling with more contemporary moves. For the intricate seams, they drew from another unique Japanese tradition: the art of folding fabric.

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2  Charting the Course
Sketches soon gave way to life-sized models made of foam and cardboard, then a wooden prototype to determine the geometry needed to give the chair its deep, comfortable recline. “It was quite challenging to develop the folded wooden frame,” says the duo of the chair’s unusual V-shape. Fabric folding came into play when they created the channels that run through the upholstery. Tucked and stitched to stretch open, they act as a visible joint between the seat and the backrest.

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3  The Final Frame
The chair’s fluidity lies in the dramatic ergonomics of the framework, which gives the 580 its singular profile, evoking the meaningful image of the crane. “The figure is one floating shape,” say the designers. “One wooden element that starts at the front folds to the back and ends in the armrest.” The folded seams are structured into zones, to create a casualness that’s also high in comfort. Launched in Milan this past spring, the 580 is offered with a low or high back and an oak or walnut frame.  ­

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