Where it all began for Stevo | Part 2

 In Chairs

Having spent a few weeks researching the finer details of the Alvar Aalto 406 chair and creating a basic set of dimensions, my first challenge was to make a 1:5 scale model.

After some experimentation with veneer and ply I found that laminating aero ply around a rigid foam mould provided the best results.  Working at this scale really is useful, you start to appreciate the method of construction and begin to understand the structural properties of the design.  Within a few hours, the frame components were complete ready for assembly.

I still have this 1:5 model sat on my bookshelf, it is something I treasure, I love it.

At this point I felt very confident in making the 1:1 replica chair, after all, the process was pretty much the same as making the small one, how hard could it be?

After some research and a few phone calls I ordered enough construction veneer from Capital Crispin Veneer www.capitalcrispin.com

My heart sank when I opened the box when I realised how challenging it was going to be to convert this bundle of veneer into chair components.

Mould making was easy; I profiled and stack laminated MDF to make a solid mould, with internal pockets to allow multiple G clamps to be secured around the perimeter.  The veneer was cut and laminated using Cascamite and every available clamp in the workshop.

I can’t remember how long it took me to get to this stage, but I do remember underestimating the work involved to create the laminations.  Incredible patience was required and cleaning the glue off was time consuming.  The laminations were pretty good, I had a few pockets and areas which were far from perfect, but given the relatively low key approach and it being the first item of furniture I made, I was extremely happy.

So after several long weeks I had made a replica chair, I was pleased how it looked but was concerned about the structural strength, having no real experience of laminated timber.  I had tentatively sat in the chair but hadn’t really sat and flexed the laminations as I was paranoid it might break.

I presented my chair to my lecturer who was far more cavalier and bounced up and down on the seat with gusto (secretly hoping it might fail??) which obviously, it didn’t (had it, I may have chosen a different career path).

So this is where it all began, a Red & Blue chair and a beautiful simple laminated arm chair, both of which are design classics.

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