As a member of the Dutch cooperative Droog (Dry) Design, contemporary Dutch designer, Marcel Wanders, shared the group’s predilection for simplicity and wit, often creating visually spare and modest designs. His early works are distinguished by their use of ordinary materials or things—string, sponges, eggs, lamp shades—employed in new and often surprisingly delightful ways. Because of this, many of Wanders’s designs evoke a sense of familiarity, like his Knotted Chair, which is reminiscent of a time-worn hammock, but with a contemporary twist.

Like several other Droog designs, this chair represents a craft-based approach to new substances, synthesizing traditional techniques, in this case, macramé, with advanced materials to create a new form. Knotted Chair is made of high-tech rope: braided aramid fibers wrapped around a carbon core, knotted into the shape of a chair. Aramid is a strong heat-resistant synthetic fiber frequently used in aerospace and military applications. The ropes that make up the Knotted Chair are first hand-knotted into a chair shape; the limp shape is soaked in an epoxy resin and then suspended in a frame to let gravity pull the chair until it sags into its final form. In the last step, the suspended chair is dried at a high temperature, about 176° F, at which point the form becomes rigid and sturdy enough to support a person in its airy, lattice-like framework.

Droog introduced this Wanders design in 1996. Italian manufacturer Cappellini began distributing the chair in 1997 and continues to do so today. Knotted Chair was an outgrowth of a collaboration between the Droog Design Foundation and the Laboratory for Structures and Materials at the Faculty of Aviation and Aerospace of the University of Technology in Delft. The result was this new durable chair design that achieves lightness and delicacy, both physically and visually.

Today is Marcel Wanders’s birthday.

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