Earlier this year, researchers at the MIT Media Lab and École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (National School of Decorative Arts) in France collaborated to “rethink the relationship between people and chairs.”
Noting that people have been sitting on chairs for 27,000 years, those researchers participated in a five-day workshop designing chairs with distinct, interactive personalities—ranging from comforting and cuddly to territorial and independent. They used electronics and innovative materials as well as more traditional crafts to bring their designs to life.
The collaboration, entitled “Rebellious Chairs” included the Wild Chair (seen here), an IKEA chair that was outfitted with its own defense mechanisms against humans who might dare to approach it too quickly. The Wild Chair features a sensor system and many wood quills. When approached too quickly by a person or other moving object, the chair goes into defense mode and raises its quills.
There is a “softer side,” however. If a person approaches slowly, touches the seatback gently, and speaks in low tones to it, the Wild Chair will lower its spikes. This occurs by using a capacitive sensor on the backrest made with a conductive fabric and a microphone near the chair that senses sound and gauges volume.
Other chairs resulting from the workshop were:
- The Baptism Chair, a pew like chair with a money slot for donation and pours “holy water” on the kneeler
- Cocooning, a chair-blanket hybrid that simulates the sounds, ambiance, and coziness of sitting by a fireplace
- DIKTATÖR, which dictates head movement according to the direction of sounds around it
- Lucien, a solar loving chair that rotates and turns toward the light or sun
- Vincent, a verbally interacting chair that communicates with humans through a language of real chair sounds