The Wiggle Side Chair: Frank Gehry’s tryst with low-impact cardboard material

It may seem surprising to some, but Frank Gehry was among the first designers to dabble in cardboard as a feasible material for furniture items. The design path was not easy during the early 70’s, since plastic tended to more lightweight, while the less-used cardboard generally could only account for single layer contrivances.Wiggle Side Chair by Frank Gehry

Gehry however successfully traversed this accepted outlook, by making use of corrugated cardboard layers that were glued and attached in alternative angles. He christened this new material as the Easy Board, while ensuing furniture collection was aptly termed as the ‘Easy Edges’.

The collection (of which Wiggle Side Chair was a part) was ceremoniously unveiled in 1972. Interestingly enough, the products were found to be startlingly sturdy for a material which was occasionally perceived as being inferior to plastic. This scope of strength was complemented by the sound proof nature of the cardboard that led to a noise-reducing effect inside enclosed spaces.

However, the ‘piece de resistance’ of the Easy Edges furniture was arguably their low-impact, environment-friendly quality. To that end, design theorist Victor Papanek, who favored the designers with ecological ethics, once praised the design of the Wiggle Side Chair – since it demonstrated the credible usage of packing material for a functional decor piece.

But oddly enough, it was Gehry who finally shied away from the prospect of being a renowned furniture designer. The reasons were many, with the primary one pertaining to Gehry’s love for architecture as opposed to just interior decor pieces. Furthermore, the increasing retail prices of cardboard furniture also didn’t conform to Gehry’s notion of providing furniture at low costs suited to various economic classes.

The rest, as they say, is history – with Gehry achieving fame as an architect in the late 70’s, with the impressive design of his very own private residence. On the commercial side of affairs, Swiss furniture company, Vitra, produced four iterations of the famous Wiggle Side Chair, starting from 1986.

Via: FT

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