What prompted you to design the APC chair and what did you want to do differently?
The origins of the chair was the atmosphere Aalto’s Artek chairs give to a room, which I have always found very appealing, I was trying to design an easy going kitchen chair and thinking of how to do a new chair of that type in plastic and with colour.
How long did it take to design and manufacture? How many prototypes?
It took two or three years I think and several prototypes, probably five or six, but that is not untypical for me.
What was the most challenging aspect of the design and manufacture? Is there a hidden component/technology that is critical to the integrity of its construction?
It’s quite unusual to make a plastic chair in three pieces, normally it makes sense to do it in one piece that pops out of the mould as a finished chair. But in this case there were some reasons to do it, both visual/aesthetic and ergonomic ones. The design of the chair was relatively straightforward whereas developing it technically was more complex. The mould for the chair structure was quite complicated and the fixing which allows a small pivot to the backrest required a lot of engineering to get it right. This detail is completely hidden but by allowing the backrest to pivot a few degrees up or down greatly increases the comfort.
Did its design change a lot over the course of its development? Do you recall any important adjustments that you had to make to it?
Most of the adjustments were to do with the comfort of the backrest and the size of the seat. It’s a relatively small chair and the backrest is quite low, but through trial and error we found that position to be the most comfortable.
How have materials been engineered to fit the purpose?
The chair is made with Polypropylene and a very small amount of Polyamide and two steel pins to hold the backrest on and provide the pivot. The structure of the chair is gas moulded, which means it’s hollowed out to provide a tubular structure which is lighter but still very strong. Before the mould is finalised for machining a number of simulation tests are carried out to make sure that the chair is strong enough to endure everyday stress and strain. The materials are all recyclable.
How successful has the design been? Why do you think people respond well to it?
It’s a very comfortable chair, it’s visually and technically fresh and people seem to like it. After two or three years working on a chair it’s very hard to predict how the market will react to it and it’s only be on sale for about nine months so we have to wait to see how successful it will be and for how long but so far the chair has ahead of sales expectations, so we are all very happy about that.
Answers by Jasper Morrison