October 1, 2011
Benjamin Hubert’s Pod chair insulates sitters in a cocoon of pressed PET felt.
In 2009, the Dutch furniture manufacturer De Vorm asked Benjamin Hubert to design a piece of privacy seating—“the kind of seat you get in office break-out areas or hotel lobbies that gives you individual privacy in a larger space,” Hubert says. This might seem like a fairly straightforward assignment, but Hubert also wanted a product that wouldn’t be terrible for the environment. Secluding the sitter generally entails heavy upholstery, and that requires a lot of components. “Normally, you have a timber or metal frame, foam, glue, staples, fabric,” Hubert says. “The whole thing is not only very labor-intensive, but also very unsustainable. So we wanted to try and find a material that allowed the chair to be more sustainable and also had great acoustic performance properties.”
The material they settled on was pressed PET felt—50 percent recycled plastic and 50 percent wool, which is made into a sheet material, heated, and then pressed into a mold. The resulting form possesses a rigidity similar to plastic, but it’s soft to the touch—perfect for a cocoonlike form meant to wrap around and insulate the sitter from his or her surroundings. Here, Hubert describes the thinking behind his Pod chair, which can now be ordered online from De Vorm.