March 1, 2003
Born to Ride
Danny Venlet talks about the freewheeling design of his Easy Rider chair.
Easy Rider is Bülo’s latest addition to the Carte Blanche line, for which designers and architects like Jean Nouvel, Ann Demeulemeester, Maarten Van Severen, and Dirk Bikkembergs created their ideal workstations. When Danny Venlet was asked to participate, he immediately decided to design something that combines playfulness and humor with multifunctionality. His solution: a round seat on casters that can be used not only as a workstation but also as a lounger.
In the brief time since it debuted last October, Easy Rider has picked up design awards from trade fairs Interieur and Orgatec, and the Chicago Athenaeum museum. Last November I saw it at the third International Biennial Design Festival, in Saint-Etienne, France (www.institutdesign.com), where it was a hit with the crowds. Intrigued, I asked the Belgian-based designer to talk about the design of his chair, which is available through Bülo (www.bulo.com).
The Easy Rider chair gives you a certain freedom. It’s on wheels so it doesn’t have to stay in one particular place. We originally were going to call it the Baby Walker because of the way the table supported the seat, but commercially that wasn’t such a good name.
I designed a massage chair where you can sit back to front, and the back of the chair extends outward so you can be massaged while you’re leaning on that back part. Bülo saw the chair, which led to the commission to design this one.
Because of the wheels, the legs have a tendency to move outward when you sit on the chair, so it needs to be stabilized. To resolve this, we worked with a team of industrial engineers at Bülo, and after some trial and error we managed to stabilize it.
One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how the weight is distributed back to the legs when someone sits in the seat. It wouldn’t have been a problem if we made it really fat, but we wanted to keep a certain elegance and still maintain structure in the design.
The chair is made of recyclable polypropylene covered in three-dimensional woven fabric, in a range of colors and textures. The “naked” version, without fabric, can be used outdoors and is available in black, gray, golden brown, green, and red.
The legs are made with a chrome finish and are available with wheels.
The fabric technology is used in fashion a lot and is also starting to be used in the automotive industry because it doesn’t have stitching, which is always a problem in car interiors. With this technology we managed to upholster a 3-D chair using only three pieces of fabric instead of the ten pieces required if it had been done in a traditional way. This was the first time I’d used this technology, and it’s a first for the company to use it for an object.