Futuristic furniture: Can you imagine soft chairs without cushions?
Soft furniture without fabric or cushions? Welcome to ultra-minimalist living.
In most furniture, the stuff that makes it soft is hidden away, but with these seats and loungers, what you see is what you get.
Prolific Japanese design house Nendo has created a new line of furniture called Bouncy Layers. Instead of using foam, springs or batting for softness, the designer used sheets of 1.5mm thick polycarbonate and achieved a 'cushion' effect by laminating and bending it.
Paired with thin frames, the polycarbonate sheets are bent in various ways, and layered to increase or decrease the softness. More curvature means more bounce. More bounce means more 'softness'.
Multiple layers of these thin sheets are used to create the 'cushions'. The sheets are curved so that the softest point is where human contact would be made - in other words, where the bum hits the seat - while there's little flexibility at the point of connection to the frame.
Nendo, led by designer Oki Sato, is known for using carbon fibre, silicone and polycarbonate in their minimalist designs. The high tensile strength of the materials allows creation of super-thin and lightweight furniture.
Launched in 2002, Nendo is one of the contemporary design world's most awarded and prolific firms.
Nendo produced over 100 products for 19 brands between 2014 and 2015 – enough to warrant a one-year retrospective exhibition at Milan Design Week. The following year, there was an exhibition of 50 chairs inspired by manga comics, and at Milan Design Week 2017, Sato presented a line of silicone-based 'invisible' vases and containers.
In an interview with Dezeen, Sato said that his design process has been sped up by his embrace of 3D printing, which enables him to create quick prototypes overnight and send those ideas around the world.
"I can't keep up," he said. "The more ideas I think of, the more ideas I come up with. It is like breathing or eating."