After graduating from MA Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins, Chinese designer Zhang Zhoujie founded his own laboratory where he today explores furniture concepts based on traditional Chinese fine art. One of his most elaborate projects is the Triangulation Series which investigates the relationship between computer technologies and Wu Wei, one of the principles of Taoism. It means “lack of intervention”.

The Triangulation Project is based on the interaction of faceted triangular surfaces. These objects are created through a process of evolution, establishing families of objects with common predecessors. By creating different typologies based on the initial geometry, the laboratory offers a possibility of creating personalized chair designs by taking key measurements from the customer. The device which performs the actual measuring is in the form of hundreds of sensors embedded into a measuring apparatus. Gathered data can be directly imported into the digital model.

The fabrication process begins with turning the digital output of the 3d model into a 2d layout of individual triangles which creates data for the laser cutting phase.  The shapes are then cut-out of the base material (stainless steel or titanium). After receiving the material a precise set of angle guides are produces for each of the different contact angles present on the chair. These are then used to bend the individual metal elements into the correct alignment based on an angle map, also created from the 2d layout.

The bending process is carried out by hand. Once its complete, the contact points are fixed in place, using a special treatment on the underside of the chair. The individual segments are mated with their adjoining parts before being fixed in place. Once the upper and lower halves of the chair have been fabricated, they are strengthened with 3 layers of glass fiber, applied to the underside of both parts. The combination of 6 layers of glass fiber produces the strength and rigidity necessary for the chair to be used as an everyday object. The final step is adding a layer of high density foam, which is sandwiched between the upper and lower halves of the chair, giving it solidity and toughness.

The Triangulation Series was showcased last month at the International Furniture Fair in Cologne.

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