2011 Design Inside the Box: Sessional Chair
One of five finalists in Avenue’s second annual design competition.
Photography by Curtis Comeau
After taking four years of university to become a mechanical engineer, Lawrence Kwok found he wasn’t happy with his job in the oil patch.
So, he flung himself back into school – this time into the University of Alberta’s industrial design program.
“I was going in there with a little bit of reckless abandon; I was a little desperate. My first 15 minutes in a design studio were eye-opening,” Kwok says. “It’s like when your dad hands you the key to his car and you’re like: ‘Really, I can take it?’ So I just grabbed it and ran with it and never looked back.”
He designed the Sessional Chair for music composers. The seat’s convex surface propels the sitter forward, making it easier to shift in the seat, and the built-in compartment in the centre is perfect for storing sheet music or an electronic tablet.
Made from ash, the legs and seat form a stool connected to the steel back by six screws. The contrasting materials are a hot point of discussion for Kwok.
“You’ve got a warm colour and a cold colour, a cold form and a warm form, a cold material and a warm material, but ultimately the silhouette of the chair is unified; and that’s me trying to express the idea that even if it’s made of different components or it’s schizophrenic in its conception, it’s still a whole thing,” he says.
“Sessional” is derived from the Latin word “sedere,” meaning “to sit.”
This meaning works in two ways: Not only does a person sit in the chair, but the front half of the chair literally sits in the back half, as neither section can stand on its own.
“My process has always been to take something conceptual and push it as far as I possibly can,” Kwok says.