A Project By — BENWU STUDIO
Sumo Chair by Benwu Studio, 2014.
“Rosewood furniture in china is a fanatic topic among the collectors community. People spend lots of money on these pieces in which they believed that can pass on generations. However, the wood resources in Southeast Asia are declining. So the business becomes a vicious resources competition. More and more company is running out of business. Craftsmen in these counties are in a crisis losing their job. So I proposed a project which can use the craftsmanship and knowledge of joinery from these well experienced workers to work on an economic furniture project that utilize cheaper conventional hardwood.
The design process was genuinely a challenge of coming up with something nicely wooden and very technical inside. To achieve such a logical result there is a lot to conquer within the knowhow and restriction of joinery. The design process begun with researching about 120 different kinds of mortise and tenon joints. From which we picked out 7 most versatile joints to test and prove if they are strong enough and easy for production. The structure was constantly evolving throughout the process with an open dialogue with our craftsmen. After the scale models and the ergonomic benchmarks we had 2 full-scale prototypes to apply these 7 joints on different part of the chair to test the stability and usability, finally we decided to choose only 3 kinds of joints to complete the whole chair structure. Each part can lock one after another and become a self-locked shape.
In the end the result is a low back armchair for comfortable dining posture. It is very easy to assemble by hand without using any glue and hardware. The aesthetic of sumo resembles a squatting wrestler, which gives the chair an extra meaning of endurance.”
Photographs by Axel Crettenand.