Dansk Stole by James Killinger

James Killinger submitted his Dansk Stole and I thought it would make a great Deconstruction! He kindly offered to share with us the process of creating this chair from the very initial sketch to the final product. Thanks James!

This is my initial concept sketch model. My goal was to create a single, continuous lamination that retained the classic visual vocabulary of a chair.

I worked through several permutations to define the character of the chair. When I was satisfied, I made a few full-scale drawings and mock-ups out of chipboard for further refinement.

Once I had finalized the overall proportions, I transferred my pattern onto sheet steel to begin making the mold for the final piece.

Cutting the sheet steel.

The steel was then rolled and the pieces were spot welded together. OSB was then used to stabilize the metal form to eliminate any wiggle.

A breakdown showing the grain orientation of the 21 layers of maple veneer. This was an important structural consideration.

Perfectly aligned seams in the veneer layers are unacceptable because they produce weak spots that may compromise stability. So, I devised five seam configurations for each leg.

It took me almost three (rather long) days to finish cutting and taping all of the veneer.

21 layers of veneer cut and ready. Whew.

Probably the most stressful and nerve-racking 20 minutes, ever, began right here. Once that glue hits the veneer, the clock starts ticking. I had an incredibly finite amount of time to get glue on the sheets and get them onto the mold before the glue started to set up. Teamwork saved the day.

The veneer was next hastily, yet painstakingly, clamped at strategic locations onto the mold. A special vacuum bag was then slipped on over the veneer and mold by carefully removing and replacing clamps one at a time.

The atmospheric pressure generated by removing the air in a vacuum bag puts down an incredible amount of force. Think of it as a million little clamps pushing down on the whole surface of the chair, compressing the veneer’s fibers and displacing the air inside the veneer with glue. With a good seal and no leaks, we took off the clamps and put the whole shebang in a giant oven to bake for a few hours.

Hooray! It worked! This is my chair, fresh out of the bag. Such a wonderful moment.

Time to give the chair a trim and remove all of the gnarly bits. After some final shaping and sanding, the industrial felt cushions were cut and applied.

All done! This chair would not exist without the tremendous expertise and patience of my incredible Danish instructors Gudmundur Ludvik Gretarsson and Nils-Ole Zib. Thanks guys!

Read previous Deconstruction posts here.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.