An open international contest has been announced for innovative portable personal seating solutions (Deadline: 10 April)
Open to architects, designers, students, engineers and artists, the anonymous competition seeks ‘inventive and adaptable’ proposals for new seats which can be used anywhere and by anyone.
The Pocket Seat call for ideas, organised by Volume Zero, aims to identify new ergonomic, portable and versatile solutions which encourage greater social interaction within contemporary public spaces. Proposals should be no larger than 0.09m² and may fold, twist or bend but must be easy to assemble for all age groups.
The Nordic Bronze Age Vamdrup folding chair from Guldhøj, Denmark
Source: Image by Bullenwächter
According to the brief: ‘In today’s crowded world, the aspect of finding comfortable seating in a public arena is a major part of one’s daily activities. A comfortable seating in public helps one relax and reduce fatigue. This social activity, however, may vary with each individual and the kind of space he/she occupies. Most importantly, the nature of the seat ought to cater to every individual irrespective of their age, size or gender.
‘Over the last few years, public spaces offering avenues to sit, relax and strike a conversation with fellow people have drastically reduced, sparking an urgent need for alternative methods of creating personal seating arrangements. It’s imperative that the seat is ideated with the utmost sense of creativity and innovation. Recreating a seat that goes by every individual’s preference and fits within its spatial limitations poses a challenge to our generation.’
Folding chairs are thought to date back thousands of years with early finds confirming their use in Nordic Bronze Age, Ancient Egypt, Minoan Greece and Ancient Rome. Traditional structures featured folding timber frames while modern seating solutions tend to harness steel and plastic.
The competition invites participants to consider a range of usage scenarios and locations and draw up plans for a versatile and easy to erect seating solution. Proposals will be expected to harness ergonomic principles while also being highly portable, innovative and aesthetically appealing.
Tiny House winning concept by Chan Ting Leung Henry, Lau Yuan Lei Flora, Yuen Tung Hing
The call for ideas is organised by Mumbai-based Volume Zero which provides a platform for promoting the work of emerging designers. Previous contests organised by the collective include Tiny House which called for a 23m² dwelling and was won by Chan Ting Leung Henry, Lau Yuan Lei Flora, Yuen Tung Hing.
The overall winner of the latest contest, due to be announced 15 May, will receive a $1,500 top prize while a second prize of $1,000, third prize of $500, and ten honourable mentions will also be awarded.
How to apply
The registration deadline is 10 April and submissions must be completed by 15 April.
Palfrey Chair case study: Q&A with Stephen Tierney
The architect at Tierney Haines Architects discusses lessons learned designing an innovative new folding chair
How does your Palfrey Chair project solve the problem of temporary portable seating?
We felt there weren’t that many handsome folding chairs, that looked good both open and closed. Generally there is a budget approach to folding seating: cheap materials, exposed fittings. People often even use covers for folding seats for weddings for example rather than look at the bare naked chair. What would a high-quality folding chair look like with materials that you wanted to touch? Ash, oiled saddle leather….
Palfrey Chair by Tierney Haines Architects
What design strategies did you use to come up with your alternative solution?
We designed this to look complete when closed. The folding parts come together to form full ‘legs’ when closed, the leather makes a simple curve when folded that gives the chair a different yet distinctive character when closed.
What advice would you have to contest participants on designing an entry for the contest?
Chairs need to inspire confidence, it needs to be clear that you will be well supported, you can’t relax in a chair that wobbles or creaks. Also a chair needs to be legible. How does it open? Is it secure? There are many ways to hurt people with moving parts and no one wants to read a manual to open a chair. There can be a real pleasure to a smooth opening mechanism, it is more than functional; it is satisfying like a good umbrella.
Palfrey Chair by Tierney Haines Architects
Q&A with Aniket Wadke
The founder of Volume Zero discusses his ambitions for the contest
Why are your holding a contest for a new portable seating solution?
Seating in today’s world requires an urgent need for innovation, with the growing population and personalisation needs in urban scenarios. This contest will help the designers to showcase their talent not only in aesthetical but functional skills as well. The judges will be selecting the best among them, with a great justification of their projects. The challenge of competing among international design professionals will bring a spectrum of solutions to the brief as per their unique contexts. This will help designers to understand each other’s thought process.
What is your vision for the new pocket seat?
The idea is to have smartly designed portable seat for individuals, which one can use in multiple urban scenarios. There are no site constraints but the designed seat’s base shouldn’t exceed a footprint of 1 sq ft [ 0.09m²]. Innovation, creativity, portability and ease of use are the key factors in the success of the designed product, as well as how the designers consider materials and sustainability factors.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The competition is open to creative-minded professionals and students of all backgrounds. Smaller emerging practices and undiscovered talents have a great chance of showcasing their designs, as the winners and honorary mentions will be promoted on multiple architecture and design blogs, along with total cash prize of $3,000 USD and trophies.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
We’re bringing the architecture and design community together so there is a cross-collaboration, as there is so much that professionals and students can explore, innovating ideas and helping each other learn. Our competitions are a medium for creative minds of all backgrounds who can transform today’s problems with their innovative and disruptive solutions. There will definitely be more competitions coming in the near future for urban design concepts and public realm improvements. All interested people should follow us on Facebook for our latest updates.
Are there any other similar innovative seating projects you have been impressed by?
There are some really great projects done by students and professionals on kick-starter campaigns and other crowdsourcing platforms. We believe true innovation happens when one can learn from each other’s projects and add layers of improvisations. The process of learning never ends.