2011 Inside the Box: Flow

One of five finalists in Avenue’s second annual design competition.

Robert Faulkner, a finalist in last year’s Design Inside the Box, doesn’t have the luxury of using a fully equipped shop. So for three months he practically lived in his garage, armed with a few basic carpentry tools, like a rasp and a spokeshave, and worked on Flow.

The armchair, made from eastern and Baltic birch, is a great addition to any foyer, sunroom or sitting room. But that wasn’t the way the 21-year-old University of Alberta industrial design student planned it.

“From the get-go, I didn’t limit myself to a certain area it needed to fit into or, even during manufacturing, I wasn’t thinking that this was something that needed to be mass-produced,” he says. “Surprisingly, I think that’s one of the reasons why it turned out.”

Faulkner’s passion for design began when he was 13, after his dad bought him a band saw and drill press. He started out building birdhouses, bike jumps and knick-knacks, but it was quickly apparent that he had a talent for woodworking. At university, he combined his woodworking skills with his love of designing bicycle frames.

That influence is seen in Flow’s organic lines, particularly in its curved armrests, which contour to the natural, relaxed position of the arms in a seated position. The back of the chair is six inches narrower than the seat, adding to the armrest’s ergonomic effect.

Unlike the lounge chair Faulkner entered in last year’s competition, which required the sitter to stretch legs out for maximum comfort, Flow’s seat height is a comfortable 16.5 inches, allowing the bottom of the sitter’s feet to rest flat on the floor.

Faulkner opted for dowels to fasten the elements together, so the only hardware is found on the vinyl upholstery, which resembles carbon fibre with its intricate diagonal patterning.

“I wanted something that was subtle but, once you inspected it, you would see that detail and it would complete it,” he says. “Flat and basic, but not too ornamental and distracting from the form. It was a good balance that helped the overall chair.”

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