Aalto University students experiment with stained-black wood to create chairs

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Stockholm 2016: a group of students from Helsinki's Aalto University have designed and built a collection of chairs using a single material: black-stained solid ash wood.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Unicorn by Yinjie Liang

The Product and Spatial Design MA students presented the furniture pieces at the Greenhouse exhibition for emerging talent at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2016 earlier this month.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Kuu by Mette Kahlos

Fourteen chairs and accompanying pieces of tableware were designed to be displayed in a cafe setting named Chat Noir.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Puzzle by Annamiia Suominen

"The cafe is a culturally significant place, for it is here where people – regardless of their social standing – can meet, share and develop daring, artistic and political ideas," said the group.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Hektor by Karoliina Heikkinen

Each student was restricted by the use of stained-black ash – with sections of eight- by 24- millimetre and 24- by 24- millimetres – but was given freedom to experiment with shape and pattern.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Taipumus by Soon Yeon Shim

This resulted in a series of simple but sculptural chairs, including pared-back designs by Laura Väre, Collin Velkoff and Mari Laajasalo.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Lemonade by Mari Laajasalo

Both Mette Kahlos and Daniela Weintraub used circular elements to form backrests for their chairs, while Andre Pozusis opted for a triangular back.



Sara Kokko's Rib chair and Lasso Alestalo's Piano design feature angled slats that are alternated in opposite directions to create uneven seats.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
B3.9 by Aija Hannula

Soon Yeon Shim and Annamiia Suominen have arranged the lengths of wood to form geometric patterns on seats and backs.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Mio by Daniela Weintraub

Areas of Shim's design are filled in with extra batons, while Suominen has created a more open lattice.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
W by Laura Väre

Antonio Gurrola produced a tighter grid from thinner elements to make the flat surfaces for his chair.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Pece by Collin Velkoff

Jakko Hyvärinen decided on a simpler arrangement, using vertical slats as a back and a perpendicular row of thinner ones for the seat.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Idja by Jaako Hyvärinen

To supplement the cafe setting, Erin Turkoglu designed black ashtrays and Saija Halo created a set of espresso cups.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Chair No 24 by Antonio Gurrola

"Using creativity in a successful way requires experimentation," said professor Jouko Järvisalo, who led the project.

"A significant part of experimentation is exploring materials, structures and principles, which cannot always be immediately put into practise."

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
The Black Ashtray by Erin Turkoglu

Students at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture embarked on a similar project in Stockholm last year, when they created a range of chairs using blue plywood.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students
Espresso Cups by Saija Halko

A group studying on the institution's Collaborative and Industrial Design course also imagined five new concepts for coffee machines and other household products in September 2015.

Chat Noir by Aalto University students

Stockholm Furniture Fair took place from 9 to 13 February 2016. Other seats on show included Färg & Blanche's collection of sofas and chairs made by stitching wood and fabric together.

Photography is by Andre Pozusis.


Project credits:

Teachers: Jouko Järvisalo, Martin Relander, Natalia Baczyńska Kimberley
Students: Lassi Alestalo, Saija Halko, Aija Hannula, Karoliina Heikkinen, Jaakko Hyvärinen, Antonio Gurrola, Mette Kahlos, Sara Kokko, Mari Laajasalo, Yingjie Liang, Soo Yeon Shim, Annamiia Suominen, Erin Turkoglu, Collin Velkoff, Laura Väre, Daniela Weintraub
Workshop masters: Ville Arkonkoski, Martin Hackenberg, Mikko Ristimäki, Arto Sillanpää

  • K

    Wow. Super-boring chairs from students!

    • Doubtful Dodger

      These are good examples of interesting design. I think it’s worthy of column inches.

    • J

      They are not boring, they are interesting.

  • omar

    So I’m guessing everything made in Stockholm is news huh?

    • the guest

      These were made in Helsinki by the way. :)