KITE Stuhl – KITE chair

The chair’s frame is made of thin ash wood. Specially-developed connectors consisting of plywood triangles ensure the stability of the chair’s construction. Two intertwined strips of plywood form a cross-over connection between the legs of the chair and enhance its stability. KITE weighs only 1.5kg.

Appreciation of the winner
by Peter Nickl – Chamber of Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria

When the Bavarian State Prize for Young Designers was set up last year and it become known that a prize would be presented in the crafts category in addition to the one in industrial design, the feedback from the crafts professions was extremely positive. They finally had been provided with an opportunity to introduce their design work and to show how familiar craftspeople are with manufacturing products for everyday life. Craftspeople do not draft their models on the drawing board but in their workshops, making use of their experience and practical knowledge relating to the connections among form, function, crafted technology, construction and materials.

From the perspective of the product, juxtaposing crafts and industrial design in the same contest is truly interesting. However, dealing with diverse assignments, production techniques and objectives in the crafts category and the industrial design sector seems even more interesting. Recognizing the value of each sector is a prerequisite for the appropriate evaluation of the submitted works as well as for the correct use of the resulting products.

Industrial design, for example, is based on a much broader spectrum of design assignments than crafts, which are involved only to a limited extent in the creation of new forms for technological progress and have no utopistic aspect. A number of applications from the industrial sector deal with techniques that are not yet available. Unlike the principle of form creation in crafts, in these concepts it is not technology that defines the form, but the form that provides the stimulus and ideas for new technological developments.

However, it would be wrong to say that crafts are not future-oriented. The battle about formal statements that can be seen today has elements that do not depend solely on technological progress; cultural, societal, world and sometimes even environmental factors also play a role.

Admittedly, however, the call for innovation in contests such as the Bavarian State Prize often results in problems specific to crafts. Using classical crafts and reproducing traditional methods of construction is not enough to receive an award such as the Bavarian State Prize. What the jurors demand is ideas for new forms, intelligence, humor and courage. To meet these requirements, many works submitted simply are extraordinary, but many also are nitpicky, subtle and complex. These works deviate from the actual nature of craftsmanship, namely, designing objects with practicable simplicity and coherent implicitness – experimenting with design while keeping to the tradition of craftsmanship means seeking to make the circle square.

With convincing clarity, the jury awarded the State Prize in the crafts category to Konstantin Grcic for his chair. It impressed the majority of the jurors at first sight with its lightness, transparency and delicateness. Grcic titled his project KITE chair. It can be compared with airy kite constructions in that Grcic experimented with eliminating any aspect of heaviness from the chair and taking materials and construction to the boundaries of what is technologically feasible. With intimate knowledge of materials, Grcic manufactured the chair from extremely thin sticks and pieces of plywood. Despite their delicateness, the wooden pieces are strong and elastic and withstand the strain typically required of furniture used for seating.

One of the prevalent aesthetic elements of the chair is its transparency. With only a few details, Grcic has created a structure that allows a view through and into the construction of the piece, making it visible to everyone. Of particular importance to the statics of the connectors are the triangular reinforcements. Glued in layers and incorporated similar to intarsia, they have a decorative function and enhance the optical lightness of the chair which weighs only 1.500g. Last, but not least, because the intertwined braces of plywood inside the four legs are tilted at a 180 degree angle, they are reminiscent of wings and make the chair seem to float.

The fact that Grcic pushed the boundaries in his use of materials shows a new awareness of the quality of the material and a novel feel for the use of wood. If you sit on the chair – for which it was meant, even considering its lightness – you experience a whole new feeling of comfort thanks to the elasticity of the wood.

Konstantin Grcic