Danish designer Matthias Bengtsson designed the Slice chair in 1998, while a student at the Royal College of Art in London. Exploring the relationship between high tech manufacturing methods and the hand-made, his creative process combined cutting-edge production techniques with craft. Bengtsson first modeled the curves and contours of this sculptural form by hand in clay. He then used a computer to scan the complex structure and digitally slice the image into thin horizontal layers. Next, he used the data to create a computer program to drive a precision laser-cutter, creating the hundreds of 3mm-thick horizontal plywood slices of the chair, each one a unique shape. He assembled and glued the slices by hand to form the layers of the chair. The result is a curvaceous form that resembles geographical strata or a topographical map, and blends the organic and mechanical. Combining digital manufacturing processes and a variety of labor-intensive handcrafting techniques Bengtsson went on to create versions of the chair in aluminum, paper, and foam as well.
Cynthia Trope is Associate Curator of Product Design and Decorative Arts.