The Four Square Chair is a made from 2" strips of 3/4", furniture-grade birch plywood; pine dowels; cast aluminum; and pool noodles. I call it the Four Square Chair because of a mathematical game I played with the design: the four planes described by the front legs, back legs, seat, and back are all squares, sixteen inches to a side. These are the four squares. There are sixteen pieces of plywood in the frame; four squared is sixteen. These are the other four squares. The angle of the front legs, back legs, and seat back off the vertical are all the same, adding another level of symmetry to the design.
Each tubular cushion is a foam pool noodle, wrapped in black cotton, with a dowel running through the center. The plywood has been drilled to accommodate the dowels and hold the cushions in place. Each piece of plywood is a 1/2" from its twin, making the total breadth of each plywood assembly 2"; since the strips are 2" across as well, each of the eight plywood sides is two inches square in cross-section -- another set of squares.
The joints are cast aluminum, made using the lost styrofoam process. I know most people don't have access to a foundry, and getting custom work cast is expensive. However, the joints could just as easily be made out of wood, hopefully something that provides a nice contrast to the plywood.
This particular project doesn't hew too close to my "readymade" ethos, in that it is not made totally from recycled junk, and I spent some money on it. That being said, the plywood was leftover from another project, the pool noodles were leftover from a party, the fabric came from a thrift store, and the aluminum is recycled. Making a chair out of relatively small pieces means that you can usually make it with scrap.
All photographs by Alfonso Elia.
Step 1: Drawings
After many drafts, trying to get the proportions and angles right while still staying within my sixteen-inch rule, I came up with these drawings. I made the joint drawings full-size, the photocopied them, spray-mounted them to rigid styrofoam insulation, and cut out the shapes with a bandsaw. I made them slightly big because the casting process isn't super-accurate and I left a margin to machine down later. As in my other posts, you can print these drawings, then measure one of the pieces of plywood in the side view drawing. Since you know that has to be sixteen inches, divide it out to get a scale. As for the joints, the "legs" or parts with the holes in them, are two and half inches long by two inches.