The German creative studio Läufer & Keichel wanted to design the ultimate versatile chair–one that’d feel every bit at home in a family living room as in a swanky restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg. That meant it had to be chic, comfortable, and dead simple to clean. So, by tweaking an industrial 3-D knitting technique, the designers developed a chair cover that’s cozy like a bed and tailored “like a pantsuit,” they say. (And just as easy to pull off.)
Coupe, designed for the Swedish brand Offecct, has a curving metal and plywood frame covered top to bottom in a single piece of snug, ribbed wool upholstery. Originally sourced from mattress covers, the upholstery has three layers for max cushiness (a top, a bottom, and a filling sandwiched in between), and zippers along the legs that allow the fabric to be removed and laundered in a jiffy.
Creating a single garment in such a complex, three-dimensional shape was no easy feat. It’d be a bit like cutting a tux for a four-legged alien out of just one piece of fabric. Läufer & Keichel’s textile producers used a 3-D knitting machine, which can generate intricately patterned, mass-produced fabrics. But even their usual methods didn’t work here. Instead, they had to 3-D knit each chair cover one at a time. Läufer & Keichel’s Julia Läufer explains why:
By knitting meshes of the front and backside of a material together you can generate different patterns, and these materials have patterns with a modular grid so they are made in meters and you can get them meterwise. As the pattern of Coupe has conical lines, not parallel lines, we could not use or make a meter fabric. Which means each skin of the Coupe is produced as a single piece. So the machine knits one single piece after another.
Sounds awfully complicated just to channel the look of a pantsuit. But hey, we’ve seen crazier stuff.