2010 CH+D Award for New Product Design: Alexander Purcell

After training as an architect, launching an event-planning company, climbing the rungs of the advertising world and then heading back to school to initiate yet another major career shift, the one thing Alexander Purcell really needed was a good place to sit down and rest—and while he has successfully created the former, the latter will have to wait.

Purcell’s Spiro chair is part of a small line of products he and his company APRRO debuted at the 2009 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. The clean-lined chair features a raised, heat-formed pattern on its seat, which adds texture and visual articulation to the simple form. It is also notable for its inventive use of Corian, a material that is more commonly found in kitchen countertops and soaking tubs.

“With Corian, I can customize the design very easily. The manufacturing technology allows for minimal waste and unlimited options as far as design,” says Purcell, who has also been experimenting with milling the material to create decorative voids, as well as laminating it with various colors. There are currently four different patterns for the chair, all of which are inspired by the spirograph, a favorite of artistically inclined children and mathematicians.

Purcell, who attended architecture school at the University of Cambridge, put a hold on his architecture career in order to travel the globe, throwing parties and dreaming up ad campaigns. But after moving to Santa Monica, he felt the lure of design once again. He enrolled in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and in 2008 decided to start his own company. The chair is Purcell’s ode to the innovations of design technology and the essence of California living: the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. “It’s a chair that was designed to cross over, to exist in that space between indoors and out,” says Purcell.

The subtly elongated shape may reflect a change of pace for Purcell. “This is certainly not a task chair that belongs behind a desk,” he says. “It is a definitely a place to lounge.”

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