When Tokyo-based design firm h220430" was commissioned by a Japanese kindergarten to come up with a chair for its tiny students, director Satoshi Itasaka wanted to make a playful piece of furniture that fostered hands-on interaction.
It turns out that the best way to make a children’s seat suited to stimulate creativity was to let the little ones in on the almost-year-long creative process. "It was very interesting to see the kids who participated in the research building the chairs by trial and error," Itasaka tells Co.Design. "We prepared several kinds of differently shaped prototypes and selected the most balanced with respect to the following: ease-to-assemble, intensity, productivity, economic efficiency, and design."
Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) provided the ideal material qualities—the soft and flexible polymer behaves like foam-rubber, making it easy to manipulate (and it’s not the first time the studio has experimented with the EVA-toddler connection, or a lighthearted take on furnishings). Then, of course, there was the issue of what to call the finished product; when laid out before being folded, the tots noticed its shape resembles an owl with its wings spread out, and the name stuck.
Though the item pictured is a prototype, a flat-packed, no-tools-required Owl Chair is in development for production and will be available for purchase in the spring.