2012 CH+D Award Winner for Sustainable Product Design
John Lum, John Lum Architecture, San Francisco
In 1958, the The Blob referred to a black-and-white horror movie about an amorphous, people-eating hunk of goo from outer space. In 2011, another amoeba-like entity called the Blob hit San Francisco, this time in the tasteful form of a cardboard chair designed by architect John Lum.
Lum and his associate, Bret Walters, developed the idea for cardboard seating while working with California Home+Design to create a table for the 2010 Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS Dining by Design gala. “The event features luxurious tables, which can seem wasteful for a one-night happening,” says Walters. “We decided to make a structure out of recyclable material, and we landed on cardboard.” The result was an all-in-one table-and-bench unit appropriately dubbed the Dining Womb. Now the Womb has begat two offspring: the Blob and the Chaise. It was the elegant, asymmetrical shape of the former that caught our judges’ eyes. Plywood “combs” hold 100 wavy cardboard pieces together to form the chair. The only other material used is a bit of Elmer’s glue, which fastens several pieces together on each end for strength. But this chair isn’t style without substance. “It’s very firm and sturdy,” says Walters. “Some patina and denting does occur from use, but we see it as similar to the distressing that happens with very soft leathers.”
Although he wasn’t thinking of space aliens when he created the lounge, Lum did have fantastical creatures on his mind. “There is a tangible life and personality to the chair, which draws on the aesthetic of anime characters,” says Lum. “Is this an object to lounge on, or is it a chair that will suddenly come to life, devouring you while you daydream?”