How to design an easy chair?

Tapio Anttila

During my career, I have focused on sensible, practical and versatile design. When I start designing a new easy chair, I decide that now I will do it differently. Will the tiger escape its stripes? Was I able to stick to my goal - read more.


Design is creating something new from scratch

Where do inspiration and ideas come from? I am often asked this question and unfortunately I do not have a clear answer. What I do know is that there is not one mystical source of inspiration, but there are several. Sometimes it's a challenge to solve people's everyday problems, sometimes it's ergonomics or enthusiasm for a new material, and sometimes it's filling gaps in the market. The design itself certainly still has its own sources and influences, which are more difficult to pinpoint. Then we go to the subconscious side. I believe that our consciousness registers an incredible amount of things ever since childhood and they pop up when they are needed. New products are born from this whole "mess". It might sound confusing, but I can't explain it any better.


Can you learn to design an easy chair by reading Tex Willer?


As a child, I was an avid comic book reader and western stories were my favorites. As well as Western movies were. The best part was when the hero camped at the evening campfire after a tough bandit hunt and a long day's riding. The coffee pot was set on the fireplace and the bean stew was heated (sometimes I wonder where the food and coffee came from when the necessities and the pot were not visible in the saddle accessories). After that, lying in the glow of the campfire, telling stories and planning the next day's strategy to defeat the bandits. The head rested on a felt roll taken from behind the saddle. Finally, it was opened and rolled up for a well-deserved rest under the starry sky.
I wanted to experience exactly these kinds of adventures as a child. As a city boy, joining the scouts made them possible. I enjoyed being in nature and especially liked sleeping outside. Later, my hunger for adventure was satisfied with numerous Interrail trips.


What does this have to do with easy chair design? Maybe something, because this time I went into the design task with the atmosphere ahead of me. My romantic imagination was that I could convey that same relaxed campfire atmosphere to the sitter. How can I transfer it to my chair? I started thinking about what elements are needed for it. The idea of a felt roll as a neck support came pretty soon. I sketched saddle-like shapes, but soon realized that it would be too expensive in leather. I chose a thermoformable felt as the body, which is made from 80-90% recycled material and is a warmer material anyway. However, the saddle-like shape and lightness remained. The loose upholstery is a relaxed wrinkled and soft woolen fabric. All of this rests on graceful turned birch frame.

Although the whole is comfortably massive to sit on, it is light. The chair is both wide and low and forms a nest, where you can curl up to protect yourself from the storms of the world. Felt and wool also bring to mind felt slippers and wool socks, which to me represent safety and coziness - i.e. perfect hygge! (by the way, we should come up with our own word for this to annoy the Danes - but that's another story... )


Do my childhood experiences really have something to do with the birth of the Filtti easy chair? I believe it has. Our experiences shape our minds, and as a designer I draw pieces from there into a complex puzzle called inspiration. It's not entirely clear which piece fits which, which makes this thing interesting.

So my original goal was to design a chair with the atmosphere in mind, and not mess with any sensible things. I did quite well here. But on the other hand, the felt roll can be opened and spread around as a warm protection (... a good and up-to-date feature since now room temperatures are decreased - this was a customer's comment at Habitare). This means that the chair has a multipurpose and is practical, so I "failed" in my goal in that respect.
Well – it's still a must to be satisfied!

- Tapio


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