Bartlett students create felt material that can be moulded into self-supporting chairs
Students at the Bartlett School of Architecture have developed a composite material using felt and resin that can be stitched together to create tubular furniture.
The project, named Fabrick, involved calculating the precise ratio of resin mixtures that can be added to felt without weighing the fabric down.
After the material is stitched and shaped the resin hardens and sets to create a self-supporting object. Different composites can be created in a single piece of material, creating varying levels of rigidity.
The shape of each piece of furniture is created by cutting out sections from a flat piece of the material using a laser cutter. The fabric is then moulded into pipe-like structures that support the weight of the object as the resin sets.
"This particular technique of creating tubes and seams gives fabric the initial structure to hold its form by itself," said Somdatta Majumdar, who developed the material alongside students I-Ting Tsai, Xixi Zheng and Yiri Yun.
The project was overseen by tutors Daniel Widrig, Soomeen Hahm and Stefan Bassing.
One of the chairs made by the students is constructed from tubular sections that resemble a bundle of tangled roots.
"The chair design is created by the same process of machine cutting the felt and letting the fabric stand on its own after which the composite is hardened," said Majumdar. "The fabric itself becomes the legs, seat and backrest, being the sole material used in design."
"A digital technique was developed showing the stitching of the fabric on a computer," the designer added. "With some of those digital design experiments as inspiration, the form of the chair was designed."
Another chair appears to be growing out of a large flat panel of material, which can be rested flat against a wall.
According to Majumdar the fabric is "hard as stone" in some parts of the chair, and soft in others.
Felt is experiencing a resurgence in popularity among designers. Earlier this year German designer Jule Waibel used felt for a collection of steam-folded pinecone-shaped stools. Reed Krakoff also turned panels of grey felt into a collection of furniture for Established & Sons' exhibition in Milan during the city's design week in 2014.
The Fabrick project was exhibited at the Bartlett School of Architecture's 2015 B-Pro show in London, which ran from 29 September to 10 October.