Spine Chair began with the prompt to design a piece of furniture for a special population, specifically people suffering from primary acute insomnia. This condition requires the furniture to be adaptable to different states of the user, depending on whether or not symptoms of insomnia are being experienced at any given time.
The design evolved to be not only counter-anatomical to the human spine, but also counter-behavioral to accomodate the transition from sitting to sleeping. A system of vertebrate pieces was developed, with a complex joint system allowing for a controlled range of movement, and a series of ribs were mounted on the spine to create a more comfortable surface.
Construction began with CNC milling the vertebrate pieces out of solid maple. There were two pieces milled for each vertebrate, with each vertebrate having its own unique geometry. The vertebrate were then assembled with a spacer of maple between the two milled pieces. Connections between the vertebrate consist of machined 1/8" X 1" aluminum strips, and the entire assembly was bolted together. The ribs are molded plywood, each consisting of three layers of 1/8" baltic birch plywood. The current legs* were constructed of 3/4" birch plywood and were bolted directly into two of the vertebrate, marking the two points where the spine changes from concave to convex curvature. Finally, strips of 1/4" pressed wool felt were backed with canvas for tensile strength and were stretched tight over each of the 16 ribs.
* The current legs are placeholders while the final version is still being designed. They are not yet up to the operative and aesthetic standards of the project.
Professor P. Eshelman