Design Moment: Wiggle Chair, 1972

 

The growing awareness that our addiction to plastic is – among other environmental impacts – destroying our oceans, has prompted designers to experiment with more sustainable materials.

Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry (b. 1929) was well ahead of this thinking when, in 1972, he designed a series of furniture pieces made of cardboard. Called “Easy Edges”, this innovative and well-received collection included an easy chair, tables and this Wiggle Side Chair.

He had been using cardboard to build architectural models but this experiment with furniture was on an entirely different scale with very practical requirements. The Wiggle Chair looks like a piece of sculpture – an early insight into Gehry’s vision that later found expression in his famous buildings including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

For this collection of furniture he strengthened ordinary corrugated cardboard by layering it – the many layers glued together in alternate directions. Swiss furniture maker Vitra has been making the Wiggle Chair since 1986 and while the original vision was of an affordable recycled product, the Wiggle Chair now costs about €1,000. BERNICE HARRISON

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