Mies van der Rohe famously remarked that a skyscraper was almost easier to design than a good chair. Mies, of course, was speaking from first-hand experience. The master produced several of the century’s most recognizable chair designs, including the Barcelona and his own take on the cantilever chair. These were thoughtfully crafted objects that embodied the same structural clarity and formal purity found in the architect’s skyscrapers and villas.
Which is why Mies would be horrified by the Do Hit chair, by designer Marijn van der Poll. Produced for Droog, the chair is everything Mies’s work is not. It’s messy, impossible to reproduce precisely on a mass scale, and it has a sense of humor.
Van der Poll’s creation, it should be said, doesn’t seem to harbor any Miesian ambitions. Neither does it try to tackle Mies head-on. But that’s not to deny it the ethos built into its design. "The ideological aim of the cube [chair] was for it to be mass produced and shaped by hand," van der Poll tells Co.Design.
The chair, a large stainless-steel cube, comes half-complete and shipped with a heavy mallet, which owners are supposed to use to "finish" or "customize" their new purchase. The designer worked with skilled welders to get the 0.04-inch-thick steel to cooperate and hold its form. Despite its thin structure, it’s quite resilient, Van der Poll says: "It is physically hard work to shape a Do Hit because of the weight of the hammer and the toughness of the stainless steel, [but] any person can do it." (Check out this video to see just how "easy" it is.)
But what happens if you’ve had a particularly long day and take things too far? "The process can only be controlled up to a point," van der Poll reassures me, saying that the more folds beat into the volume actually "adds to the rigidity of the shape, [thus] making it harder to shape." Still, there’s a good chance you could render the piece unusable—that is, if you’re seriously planning on using this as a chair (trust us, you’re not).
Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, and the back and seat have been formed, users make small adjustments by targeting their blows. These "refinements," which includes bludgeoning the cube’s sharp corners and flattening out a bumpy surface, individuate one chair from another. The nuances add dimension to the project, and speak to how participants "relate to the intensity of the process and aesthetics of the finished piece."
The Do Hit chair can be yours for just a bit more than €4,000. No, that doesn’t factor in the hospital fees and physical therapy sessions after you inevitably throw out your back.