The 2010 Brit Insurance Design Awards: Carbon Fibre Chair by Shigeru Ban

“I wanted to make a chair that was lighter than Gio Ponti’s Superleggera, so light a child could pick it up with just his little finger”.

So describes Japanese architect Shigeru Ban the motivation behind his Carbon Fibre Chair.

Born in Tokyo in 1957 Shigeru Ban initially studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and subsequently at the Cooper Union School of Architecture where he completed his  Bachelor in 1984. Following his  return to Japan he established his own practice. Although much of Ban’s work has unmistakable overtones of two of his favourite architects, Mires van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto, it is his experimentation with “non-traditional” materials that sets Shigeru Ban apart from his contemporaries. Best known for his work with cardboard tubes and paper Ban has created buildings as varied as Issey Miyake’s Design Studio Gallery in Tokyo, the Japanese Pavillion at Expo 2000 in Hannover and refugee shelters for the UNHCD.

“I was interested in weak materials,” Ban told “Whenever we invent a new material or new structural system, a new architecture comes out of it.”

So with his carbon fibre chair

Weighing in at just 500 grams, carbon fibre chair is constructed as a “sandwich” featuring an aluminium skeleton surrounded by two 0,25mm layers of the carbon fibre TENAX – a product commonly used in aircraft wings, satellite antennas and fishing rods.

So stable, yet light.

Carbon fibre chair originally formed part of the “Tokyo Fibre 2009” exhibition: essentially a PR event for the Japanese synthetic fibres industry.

In many ways it is only upon seeing carbon fibre chair in profile that one realises the true aesthetic value of the chair. It may resemble Maarten van Severens .03, however not only is the silhouette much finer and more filigree; but just as the true magic in .03 lies in the feather spring structure in the back rest, so is carbon fibre chair more about the construction and the material than the sitting comfort per se.

Although that is apparently also quite high.

And the technological features could just swing it for Shigeru Ban…if the judges go for two similar decisions back-to-back.

Carbon Fibre Chair by Shigeru Ban

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: good to middling.

Carbon Fibre Chair Shigeru Ban Brits Insurance Design Award

Carbon Fibre Chair by Shigeru Ban shortlisted in the Brits Insurance Design Award

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