• Client:
  • Powerhouse Museum
  • Location:
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Status:
  • Realised 2010
  • Size:
  • 1.5 x 1.5m


LAVA sliced up the 1967 Panton chair for the Re-loved: designer stories exhibition.

LAVA was one of several designers commissioned by the Powerhouse Museum Sydney to use a pre-loved chair to tell a story about a piece of furniture they love. A design classic that relates to current design and manufacturing techniques was chosen.

The gravity-defying Panton chair c1967 by Danish designer Verner Panton was a radical departure from traditional design and manufacturing techniques. It anticipated the digital revolution by 30 years and is the first freeform, organic moulded piece of furniture.

LAVA chose to represent this shape as slices, similar to an MRI scan in order to make visible its complex three-dimensional geometry. The chair is metaphorically and physically carved out of a sliced box.

The project retro-digitises the chair design, although it was the chair that preceded the digital design revolution. The Panton chair is interesting because of its extravagant and elegant shape and because it was the first chair made from one piece of plastic. Every chair at the time was about the assembly techniques of materials, compression, tension, and junction. Panton exploited the possibilities offered by the new material in order to achieve a total departure from classical design thinking.

Slicing enables its geometry to be read like the pages of a book, slice by slice. It is also the only way to approximate three-dimensional curvature in a two-dimensional way and make it buildable at any scale.

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Design: Toko / Development: Damien Aistrope