Consumers are demanding more sustainable products, a trend that extends to all industries. Aluminum provides a lightweight, high strength, and recyclable alternative to a variety of industries. This is true for the furniture industry, where aluminum is able to meet not only structural and sustainability requirements, but also stylish beauty as part of their aesthetic design.
Tom Dixon Studio
Hydro is collaborating with Tom Dixon, head of U.K.-based Tom Dixon Studio, to design a chair that is lightweight, robust, and recyclable. “I think it’s very important that different industries meet each other like this,” said Tom Dixon, Creative Director of Tom Dixon Studio. “By exchanging ideas and knowledge, we develop exciting things in ways we have not done before. Sustainability is a critical factor, which is one of the reasons I like designing with aluminium.”
The aluminum company provided supported the joint project through its experts in recycling, surface treatment, and extrusion design. “We proud to join forces with a forward-thinking designer like Tom Dixon to develop products fit for the circular economy,” said said Egil Hogna, head of Hydro’s business area Extruded Solutions. “Our philosophy is that it is through uniting experts, from our own material engineers to designers like Tom Dixon, we can reduce carbon footprint and develop products that can go back into the loop – starting already at the drawing board.”
Hydro has worked closely with a number of designers through their developments — from the design at the drawing board to the prototype — including designs for aluminum baskets, lamps, and tables that were presented at Milan Design Week 2019.
Toshiki Omatsu, an architect and designer based in Tokyo, Japan, presented his latest furniture project, titled “Shades of Michelangelo” — which fuses aluminum with maple wood. The the back plate and the seat of the chair are formed from an integrated 3 mm thick aluminum plate.
The back is deformed into a curved shape in order to provide visual appeal and comfort for the sitter. An incremental forming technology developed by Kikukawa Kogyo Co., Ltd. was used to mold the chair back into the required shape. This method is able to form the aluminum sheet without requiring a die, making it ideal for products with varying complex shapes manufactured in low volumes.
The seat is a single sheet of aluminum, which is extended and bent to partially form part of the chair legs. This adds structural strength for the wood legs without needing additional joining.
Tao & Jin
Berlin, Germany, and Shanghai, China-based studio, Tao & Jin is using architectural aluminum in their attempt to “find a new language” for basic furniture elements such as tables and chairs as part of its No. 7 Project. The minimalist furniture collection combines corrugated aluminum sheet with extruded aluminum tubes as basic materials, creating a balance between structural support and aesthetic value. “In our imagination, they should be ceremonial, logical, and comfortable,” explained the company.
The curved aluminum tubes are used structurally, providing supports for the chair and shelves. The wave design offers the shelves a lightweight, attractive style, while also increasing the strength of the shelf. “The wave structure gives the aluminum plate a stronger support, allowing our design to transcend existing logic and create something new,” stated the company.
The use of aluminum also enables the designers to streamline their production methods and simplify assembly and packing processes.