A chairs armrest needs to be both comfortable, functional and tolerant to a lot of use.
How comfortably should it be? And how much functionality does it actually need? Which materials is good enough, and what is the perfect shape?
In this post I am going to explain the concept and idea behind the armrest of the chair.
The armrest is built up by a aluminium frame which is bolted on the “main” horizontal frame. Under the users arm there is a padded leather cushion which is slotted into the aluminium frame of the armrest.
On the side of the users body there is 2 cushions in fabric which is also slotted into the aluminium frame. The biggest of these cushions which hits the side and thighs, have integrated air cushions in the fabric. These cushions can be inflated/deflated for extra support and comfort.
On the picture below you can see how the armrest is bolted to the frame of the chair.
This is how the aluminium frame and the different cushions are separated into different shapes and materials.
The part under the arm is up for most tear so it`s natural to have the cushion there in leather.
The panels on the side of the body is in comfortable and durable fabric to tolerate difference in size from the air balloons.
I also like the combination of different shapes and colors on the armrest, which is both functional and exciting. I intend to have all the air filled pockets on the chair in the same color to easy understand which parts that can be adjusted by inflating/deflating air.
This is a very simplified illustration on how the cushion will work when inflated/deflated.
Separating the cushions in several parts make it easier to perfectly adjust the pressure points. Exactly how many air pockets will be something I have to evaluate, since too many pockets will be confusing and overkill.
Color, shape and material:
The only thing I was quite certain about was the fact that the armrest would need to be upholstered in Leather. The reason for that is leathers strength in terms of both tear and age.
The shape was influenced by the design language of both “Bang olufsen” and “Dieter Rams”. Since “REV” is my customer in this project I wanted to find designs where hard long lines meet soft materials.
My goal is to use hard unfriendly materials (Aluminium and plastic) for the parts that humans don`t need to be in contact with, and soft friendly materials (Leather and fabric) where the interactions will happen.
Below you can see examples where hard materials meet softer materials. I really like the hard very focused lines on the bang olufsen headset to the left, and the magic that happens when they are combined with the softer shapes of the leather.
Dieter Rams shows perfect minimalism where he uses plastic to tie together the leather parts of the sofa.
In my chair I want to challenge leather seats and use thick durable fabric. Fabric is both warmer and it breathes. A big factor in my chair which uses air pockets to adjust support and comfort, is that the material needs to offer dynamic abilities.
The environmental factor of leather is that it`s Factory farmed and they use a lot of chemicals in production.
Some sketches leading up the idea of the armrest.
Picture Bang olufsen: https://pin.it/tpljkfyww4gaer
Picture dieter rams: https://pin.it/vnfbdavgat7co6
Picture fabric: https://pin.it/jtacb53d6rgmah
Information on leather and fabric: