1 inch/yr


How do you express long processes in an instant?

The surface of the earth is broken into 15-20 plates, each of which is moving at an incredibly slow yet constant rate. These movements are responsible for geological structures we see around us such as mountains, valleys and volcanoes. The North American tectonic plate, for example, is moving to the west-southwest at about 1 inch per year. The project began with my difficulty in comprehending how slow this is. The result of the project was 1 inch/yr, an attempt at expressing this long process.

Burnished c-curved steel sheets, sandwiching corrugated steel, are held together by rods and rivets in an attempt to reenact the convergence of tectonic plates. With this chair I also hope to explore how form can communicate force.

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The process began with creating several 1:5 scale models of chairs. The chosen 1:5 was constructed from 2 small sheets of mild steel, tip welded in two places to hold it together:

1:5 model

1:5 model


The next challenge became scaling this model up. With exactly the same material dimensions the weight of the object at 1:1 would be proportional to the volume of the chair, roughly 5 x 5 x 5 or 125 x the weight of the 1:5 model. The sheets of mild steel would each be 25 mm thick, making the mating point of the 2 around 50 mm thick, which was beyond the maximum thickness for tip welding.

Instead of immediately recreating the 1:5, I decided to create a 1:1 out of mdf and cardboard. I used a simple grid method of scaling up my drawing, and then drew out the 1:1 on paper. This could then be used as a cutting pattern for a band saw to cut 3 fins for each curve. the fins were covered in a cardboard shell and I was quickly able to make a 1:1 model which I could sit on, to test the ergonomics of the chair.

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Something about the cardboard shell was really interesting to me, and after discussing with Boyd from the Royal College of Art’s metal workshop I saw the possibility of creating a metal sandwich with corrugated iron in the middle and two mild steel sheets on the outside, like massive metal cardboard (the assembly of which can be seen in the above photo). the thickness would be greater than the scaled up 25 cm pure sheet, but would be much lighter. By riveting the corrugated Iron into its C-shape, it would hold the corrugation in place and add bending strength to the chair.

Instead of tip welding, 2 bars with tapped screw holes were fitted in side the corrugations, and a nut could hold the 2 C’s together.

more information to follow…