Dezeen Magazine

Two hardware finish versions of the chair

Woocheol Shin mimics whale's tail to create plywood chair

Graduate designer Woocheol Shin has designed the curved-plywood and stainless steel Whale Chair informed by the shape and smooth contours of the animal.

Shin built the Whale Chair using a combination of bent plywood and stainless steel to mimic the characteristic features of a whale's tail are defined through the smooth curves of the backrest.

"I aim to create emotional products," Hongik University graduate Shin explained. "[I took] a motif from nature and tried to melt it in a rational and aesthetic way within the category of furniture."

Chair with powder coated legs
Smooth contours reflect the shape of a whale

Stained with Sumi ink, an east Asian ink typically used for calligraphy and brush painting, the heavy grain beech plywood was used to reinforce the whale motif and mimic the texture of whale skin.

"The combination of wood and metal creates a warm feeling while creating a calm and sophisticated atmosphere," Shin told Dezeen.

Sumi ink stained wood on fin shaped back rest
Ink stained wood exposes the grain of the beech

To achieve the whale-like silhouette, the chair's wooden elements are divided into three individual pieces. The fin backrest is split in two and held together by steel piping, while the seat is designed to comfortably surround its user.

"The backrest and seat plate, inspired by the shape of a whale, are visually comfortable with their characteristic smooth curves and comfortably surround the seated person in terms of use," Shin said.

"A combination of wood and metal creates a warm feeling while creating a calm and sophisticated atmosphere."

Stainless steel hardware on chair
Polished steel piping supports the bent ply

Designed with simplicity in mind, Shin created two iterations of the chair – one with polished steel legs and the other finished with a black powder coating.

Both were intended to harmonise with the warm properties of the beech backrest.

"The shape of the legs is designed in a simple and rational structure to harmonise with the conceptual feeling of the backrest and seat," explained the designer.

View of chair from below showing hardware
Polished piping contrasts against ink-stained wood

Other nature-inspired furniture includes Swedish studio Front's collaboration with Moroso to create mossy-rock formations, and Erez Nevi Pana's designs made from salt and soil.

Last week, Baca Architects revealed its design for a marine observatory called the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre that will mimic a whale surfacing from the sea.