Is it possible to build a chair without wasting any materials? Designer Seungji Mun claims as much. Mun’s Economical Chair project produces four chairs from exactly one 4’x8’ wooden board–you know the ones you find at Lowe’s or Home Depot–no more, no less.
Long wood strips and thick rectangles are cut out from a template, then bent into place. Admittedly, a close inspection of the pattern, coupled with a close inspection of the chair, makes it hard to see how exactly the geometry works out, but Mun claims the design results in zero waste.
The Economical Chair makes for an impressive statement piece–especially because it’s a perfectly good-looking seat that just happens to be cleverly designed with sustainability in mind. That said, Mun’s approach to sustainability is a touch naive. After all, Mun is starting the furniture design process, not with a raw log that a woodsman chopped down with his axe, but with a factory-carved board that’s the result of a larger industrial process featuring any number of wasteful steps (from the machines that cut the wood to the chemicals that treat it).
Mun’s chair might be a clever approach to one part of the industrial furniture complex. But it’s disconnected from the realities of using, not just one polished piece of wood, but a whole world of actual trees.