Well Proven Chair

Species: American Ash
Designer: James Shaw
Born:Newcastle, 1987

Designer: Marjan van Aubel
Born:The Netherlands, 1985
Photographer: Mark O Flaherty

In a first degree at the Design Lab of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Marjan van Aubel focused on process and development. This started her interest in research into materials, which she carried through several years working. She has now graduated from the RCA and hopes to start a studio.

James Shaw studied product and furniture design at Kingston University and absorbed from there the idea of intelligent making – of how to make objects in a simpler, more interesting way. He has just completed his first year at the RCA, and hopes to continue his collaboration with van Aubel.

Well proven chair


The starting point for the design of this chair was the fact that, even in a well-run factory, between 50 and 80% of the timber becomes waste. They therefore looked at ways of incorporating the lowest form of timber, the shavings, into the design of the chair. Following extensive testing, they came up with a combination of a bio-resin, water, and shavings of a mixture of lengths (generated by different operations), that created a kind of controlled explosion.

The resin, mixed with a colour, forms a porridge-like mass, which can be moulded against an existing classic polypropylene chair to create a seat form (why create a mould when such an excellent one is already available?) and is fixed to simple but elegant legs of turned ash – a deliberate contrast to the exuberance of the seat.

This is a method for creating unique chairs, since the behaviour of the mixture is unpredictable, and the colours do not mix evenly.


The idea of using waste materials within the body of a chair is appealing, although the need to select the materials carefully limits the amount that could be used. Shavings from different timbers give different effects – for instance, cherry shavings impart a definite reddish hue.

The biggest uncertainty is with the bio-resin for which little clear data is available. Van Aubel and Shaw have used it in a very different way from the manufacturer’s recommendation, and so it is hard to judge how durable the chair will be. The pair are eager to continue their researches.

Click to View the impact assessment and/or short film for Well Proven Chair.


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