Species: American ash, American cherry, American walnut
Designer: Sam Weller
: Bath, 1985
: Mark O'Flaherty

Sam Weller’s first degree was a bachelor of science in industrial design and engineering at the University of Brunel, which also included a seven-month period in San Francisco studying typography and graphics. He worked in Scotland on the development of a transport incubator for neonatal babies, and now carries out freelance design work in lighting and electronics. Having just graduated from the RCA, he hopes to work in the area of furniture design.

TensegrityTHE DESIGN

The stool is named after sculptor Kenneth Snelson, whose sculpture Needle Tower II inspired Weller when he saw it in the Netherlands.  Snelson's ideas were the foundation of Buckminster Fuller's tensegrity designs, which are structures that are held together entirely by tensile behaviour. Weller's design is for a three-legged stool that uses string under tension to hold together the elements, which do not even need to touch.  Following advice from Sean Sutcliffe at Benchmark, Weller used a marine rigging called Dyneema which does not creep (stretch under continued loading). The rigging is tightened with a lashed pulley arrangement that is more commonly used to tighten the stays on a yacht.

The rigging makes the appearance complex, and so Weller deliberately kept the other elements as simple as possible – a disk for the seat of the stool, and circular legs with rounded ends that are deliberately evocative of broomsticks. It is possible to disassemble and reassemble the stools, although doing this presents a daunting intellectual puzzle.

Because  manufacture was relatively straightforward, Weller had the time to make stools in a variety of timbers. The light stools could work as occasional seating in a home, or be taken outside for special events.


Manufacturing processes for the stool are simple, so that the energy that goes into making it is kept to a minimum. Weller, who had studied a module on designing for sustainability in his first degree, was also aware that it would be relatively easy to replace any part if it became damaged.

Click to view the impact assessment and/or short film for Snelson.


For more information follow Sam on Twitter or visit


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