Chair Share: David Petersen

A talented woodworker, Dave Petersen could think big when he devised the concept for his chair. All he had to do was design a grid pattern that he could compose into a minimal shape that supported the lateral forces placed upon it by the human body.

Dave is a fan of Japanese construction techniques. His chair is composed of 6-way “Chidori joints” that create a three-dimensional geometric shape. The joints come together with laps on the horizontal plane and hardwood dowels on the vertical. Rather than thinking of it as separate elements – a back, legs, seat, stretchers, and so on – Dave imagined his chair as a gridded volume reduced to maintain structural integrity while balancing scale and proportion. The bottom, for example, tapers in to minimize its mass, while the back adds a layer to provide lumbar support.

Dave originally planned to use clear polycarbonate “pads” for the seating surfaces. He cut and shaped them into a square that mimicked the grid pattern, and then routed and polished them. However, they were fastened with dowels that broke in use. As a backup plan, and to meet a deadline for a museum exhibition, Dave went with countersunk screws and smaller round maple pads. He hopes to devise a more durable fastening system so he can reattach the poly pads, which will be more comfortable and highlight the Chidori joints.

The chair’s frame is made from ash. Dave first experimented with dark and light-colored wood to see how the contrast might highlight how the joints came together. Ultimately, he stuck with ash to accentuate the overall mass. He chamfered the ends to soften them a bit, and subtly curved the seat and back to conform to body shape.

We applaud Dave’s ingenuity and craftsmanship and look forward to seeing his final design realized!