Fab Chair

The purpose of this project was to create a chair/table module, which could be produced in FABLAB (using their machines), in accordance with INDEX Brief 5 – Innovative Ideas for the Education Sector. We chose the “Open” option because it allowed us to address any of the areas of concern/ need; such as shortages in the areas of equipment and supplies and inadequate facilities – all within low income communities and emergency affected areas. In our case, we focused on the semi-rural township area of Shoshanguve.

The community
Shoshanguve is a semi-rural township just outside of Pretoria, Gauteng. While in the area, we spoke to 2 female school children in Grade 7, ±12 years of age, who mentioned that there was a severe shortage of chairs in the local school. Being a rural community, it is not a wealthy one, and so our aim was to aid the children in the creation of more chairs, whilst still keeping both the material and overall cost low. We also hoped to develop something that would influence classroom layout in such a way as to increase group activities and move away from a strict linear arrangement. Communities such as Shoshanguve traditionally have a culture of ‘togetherness’ and ‘community’ which we were hoping to emulate in the classrooms.

Problem statement
The problem we tried to solve was the shortage of chairs in rural classrooms and schools, with the added benefit of an integrated desk function. The aim was to make sure that our design could be easily reproduced by the children, using the FABLAB machines and a set of instructions. We also aimed to make the materials as low cost and accessible as possible, with no complicated fittings or fixtures attached.

We aimed to make our unit modular with dual functionality.

Design solution

The solution we came up is a modular unit or 350mm x 350mm x 700mm. It is made of laminated cardboard fins and ribs interconnected in different ways in order to form the various surfaces. This module has a dual purpose of both chair and desk, depending on its orientation. An added bonus brought on by the modularity is various stacking options – which allow the modules to be turned into shelving units or cubby holes. The cardboard is easily obtainable and the children will be provided with an instructional manual on how to cut and assemble each piece in the FABLAB.