Chair Share: Ben Mayne

Ben Mayne's chair was inspired by the architect and theorist Buckminster Fuller, who coined the term “tensegrity” to describe a structure whose form relies on both compression and tension. Made of five laminated wood panels, Ben’s chair is held together with a splayed array of rigid cables. Under tension when sat upon, the cables form a curve that complements the overall composition. When relaxed, the cables ease while still maintaining the chair’s overall shape.

The panels are made of a sandwich of three 1/8" sheets whose grain runs parallel to give them flexibility. Ben cold molded them into their respective curved shapes, starting with the panel that forms the back and seat. Then, he finished them with a maple veneer. The panels were cut with a router using an acrylic template that Ben made on our laser cutter. Eschewing glue so the overlapping panels had some give, Ben fastened them together with tamper-proof zinc-coated hardware. The cables pass through the fasteners, each tipped with 3/32" threads held in place with nuts that nest inside.

Finished with tung oil and wax, the veneer’s maple grain aligns along the chair’s length, giving it a sinewy shape when viewed from the front. Simple white paint on the edges, and ever-so-slightly eased corners emphasize its curves in profile. It all moves a bit when in use, but just enough to make it interesting. We think it demonstrates “tensegrity,” and that Bucky would be intrigued by Ben’s creation.