masao kodama prototypes chair using HUMOFIT®, a new material reacting to body temperature

 

Japanese design studio magick. shares its prototype of a support chair made with HUMOFIT®, an innovative material developed by Mitsui Chemicals that softens in response to body temperature. This new fabric ‘can bend, fold, twist or stretch without force being applied. Although stiff against initial stress, it stretches a little at a time and then gradually returns to its original shape like felt,’ explains the manufacturing company. 

 

Standing upright like a ‘giraffe’, the HUMOFIT® chair gradually takes on a ‘seated’ position once users lean against the thermal sheet that begins to soften around their bodies the further they go back. ‘It’s as if you’re being tenderly supported while sitting down,’ notes the studio. 

a new material gives a new structure and a new relation to product 1

all images © magick.

 

 

proposing a new chair design that adapts to deformation 

 

The prototype, which may look odd at first glance, comes from testing the characteristics of the new fabric against the human body, posture, and movement. magick. (see more here) explains‘Because it is a completely new material, using existing chair design principles would not work. Since the seat surface is deformable, we needed to create a dynamic system that would work before, after, and during deformation. The frame must be strong enough to withstand the load applied, but if the frame is located in the direction of the deformation, it will interfere with the body once fully seated; this would ruin the softness and comfort of the membrane.’

 

 

 

 

With this in mind, and to prevent interference between body and frame after deformation, the chair had to be tested on an actual-size model, allowing for a gradual adjustment of the curves. The shape of the membrane surface was also gradually trimmed away, resulting in a narrower profile. In addition, since the chair needs to be firmly planted to support the entire body, the distance between the front and rear legs is left quite wide. The studio also installed handle parts to enhance grip.

a new material gives a new structure and a new relation to product 2

3/4 view

 

 

balancing between elasticity, rigidity, and full comfort 

 

Material-wise, the membrane incorporates HUMOFIT® sandwiched between two sides of a stretchy knit fabric. The textile itself is heat-soluble and integrated through heat welding. The choice of composite material limits stretchiness to an appropriate level, promotes the return to the original shape after deformation, and adds a pleasant feel to the skin. ‘The comfort of the seat is unprecedented, allowing the user to sit as if they were leaning their entire body against it. This also reduces the load on people with weak legs and backs when they bend over,’ further comments magick..

a new material gives a new structure and a new relation to product 3

back

 

 

Structurally, since the upper part of the frame requires elasticity and the joint portion experiences a heavy load, the studio inserted stainless steel spring wires inside a vinyl pipe. It then connected the upper half to the lower part made of steel to fully support the human body. Furthermore, a white resin mold holds the membrane surface to the frame while a blend of silicon rubber and cork make up the tips of the legs using a 3D-scanned clay master model.

a new material gives a new structure and a new relation to product 4
righta new material gives a new structure and a new relation to product 5
front

a new material gives a new structure and a new relation to product 6
study model

 

 

 

 

1/6
prototyping process
prototyping process
study model
study model
foot parts are originally manufactured using 3D-printed mold
foot parts are originally manufactured using 3D-printed mold
the sheet is held with clips
the sheet is held with clips
using stainless steel spring wires as inner joint parts
using stainless steel spring wires as inner joint parts
inserted spring wires
inserted spring wires

project info:

 

name: HUMOFIT® support chair
chair design: Masao Kodama / magick.

HUMOFIT® manufacturer: Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.

 

 

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom