The Shimmer Chair creation was a result of a joint partnership between the University of Western Australia and the Forest Products Commission of the Government of Western Australia undertaken by the Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC). ATC’s overall goal is to establish outstanding practises in the area of environmental and industrial sustainability for the use of plantations and native timber.
In design-led research carried out by ATC, the Shimmer Chair and Table are paradigmatic. Manufactured in Karri, Jarrah and Sheoak, native Western Australian eucalyptus trees, they exploit the strength and aesthetic character of these timbers to produce elegant, lightweight, highly durable forms.
Crafted from solid timber and coupled with advanced joinery techniques, the Shimmer Chair combines a sophisticated aesthetic with intense durability utilising the inherent qualities of Western Australian hardwoods.
This is the first project conducted by the ATC for concept lead studies. It emerged from the discovery that local furniture manufacturers discarded timber that had a cross-section of 20mm x 20mm or less. They adopted this size in an attempt to incorporate the design according to sustainable practise as the limit for the materials from which the chair was to be built.
It was also noted that timber furniture tended to be heavy, rigid, flat, and to rely on comfort upholstery. This chair was to be light, flexible, textured and comfortable, although only solid timber was still being built. Suitable candidates were the timber species Jarrah and especially Karri, which has a long straight grain and excellent strength.
To allow three-way joints to occur, sophisticated jointing techniques were applied to the small timber sections; no other timber chair is entirely constructed with such small square section components. The work on this chair has led to a new research project on the jointing of timber with small section sizes, resulting in the creation of a timber furniture software design programme.
In the manufacturing of the chair, other manufacturing methods such as steam bending and surface milling were also used, and a combination of these two techniques was used to make the distinctive woven back to the chair. To allow them to flex, all components were sized so that comfort was an integral feature of the components rather than being applied through the upholstery. The specially textured surface that the surface milling creates ‘ shimmers’ applied to the seat battens.
In the final analysis, the chair relies on being an integrated structure where all joints and members working together give strength and flexibility.
Shimmer Chair – Gary Marinko Architects
Solid Juvenile Karri – maximum cross section 20mm x 20mm 3kg Background Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC) is a joint venture between the University of Western Australia and the Government of Western Australia’s Forest Products Commission.