As any industrial designer will attest, drafting an idea is relatively easy. Getting it made is the hard part. Prototypes often languish for years waiting for a manufacturer; and once one is found, it can take equally long to work out the production kinks. Just ask the German designer Stefan Diez, whose Chassis chair, made with space-frame technology commonly used in building car bodies, was unveiled to media swoons back in 2008 but didn’t actually see the light of day until late last year. Although Wilkhahn had committed to financing the project, finding a properly equipped factory willing to fabricate the parts proved a major setback:
If you come as a designer and want to make a chair using this kind of technology, you don’t find an entrance to the club—they have no interest in making chairs.
Chassis is lightweight (about 12 pounds) and flexible with a delicate-looking frame of thin sheet metal and a removable polypropylene seat. An advantage of the sheet metal is that you can apply many kinds of coatings: you can have it galvanized, chromed, or whatever. A laser cuts sections out of the seat back and the metal scraps are then used to make the legs, which are spot-welded to the frame. According to Deiz, he idea was to make a chair with flexible characteristics, like a bicycle. A rigid structure wouldn’t resist the forces applied to it; it would break. So the idea of using flexible materials, like sheet metal, for a chair is quite clever.