Raising the Bar (Stool)

Raising the Bar (Stool)

Carbon Chair, by Marcel Wanders, was released by Moooi in 2004. In 2015, eleven years later, Wanders and his Moooi partner Bertjan Pot have created the Carbon Bar Stool, a tall cousin of the Carbon Chair. According to Wanders, they wanted to expand the range of projects where the carbon chair-type could be used.

Made almost entirely of carbon fiber/epoxy composite – the only metal are the screws that fasten the seat to the legs – both chair and bar stool versions of this concept feature a seat of epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber strands that have been hand-woven in a somewhat random manner. The seat rides on a trussed designed of impossibly thin carbon fiber sticks. They have been fabricated with a crinkled surface so that they vaguely resemble the steel “deformed reinforcement bars” commonly used in concrete.

There are actually two versions of the bar stool: The Carbon Bar Stool Low with a seat-height of 26 in (66 cm) and a weight of 9.9 lbs (4.5 kg), and the Carbon Bar Stool with a seat height of 29.9 in (76 cm) weighing in at 11 lbs (5 kg).   The original Carbon Chair has a seat height of 18.1 in (45 cm). It’s interesting to note that adding 4 inches of height to the full size stool (vs the low stool) only adds 1 lb. to the weight

The bar stool, especially the full-height version, brings into sharp focus an aspect of the design that was not as obvious in the chair.   Because of its increased height, you can’t help but notice the amazing thinness – and therefore, the strength – of the carbon fiber leg system. It makes the bar stool look light and airy, to an extreme degree that the chair did not achieve. In fact, it’s hard not to stare at it.

In order to truly appreciate the ‘message’ of this design, close your eyes and stop looking at the chair as a lovingly photographed art object. Imagine it in use. Imagine it supporting 250 lbs (113 kg) of human being. You can imagine a short, fat 250 lbs or a tall, densely-muscled 250 lbs, your choice. If the stool were pure plastic, the legs would buckle and then explode all over the room, with 250 lbs of surprised human crashing to the floor. But it’s carbon fiber composite, and it does not buckle. Maybe it deflects a little.

The bar stool has architectural relevance, not only in the broad sense of Architecture that includes furniture and interior design, but also in Architecture’s strict sense, the creation of buildings and other habitable structures.   Carbon Bar Stool hints at the largely unexplored possibilities of carbon fiber composites in constructing buildings.  Those legs are as thin as if they had been made of steel, maybe thinner.

If you’re an architect, this bar stool gives you a nudge to start wondering what you could do with carbon fiber that you’re currently doing with steel.  Strong no longer has to mean heavy or massive.  It’s a new image for the concept of strength.

Images via Moooi.com