Picture of Four Square Chair
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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.
tskerratt6 months ago
Sorry my son just marked this as inappropriate and spam. Hahaha. I don't know how to retract what he has done. Sorry. Great chair.
pleszmc4 years ago
and also how much did it cost in total?
pleszmc4 years ago
how long did it take you to make it?
How comfortable is sitting on the noodles? I am looking to create a much better seating situation in my studio...where I spend hours glued to my chair.
theRIAA6 years ago
sigh Why did I not accept that giant 4"x8"x20" aluminum block my old high school teacher offered me before he threw it away. I will always regret that. :P

I love this! 5 stars! do the pool noodles hold up over time? I guess if one ripped you could just cut a new one down the edge like foam pipe insulation and glue it.
picbuck7 years ago
Wow! Good looking and very clever. I expect some furniture manufacturer to rip off your design. (sue!)
Well, I don't get the point of going to all the trouble to cast the brackets then clean them up. Aluminum plate would have accomplished the same thing. If you wanted a pitted look, a bit of acid as an etchant would have done the trick. However, I envy you for having the skills required to do aluminum casting. Second observation: the dowels used as rails are vulnerable to being broken. The first time I place a foot on it, which I will surely do, it will break. And, the unconventional placement is just unconventional. It is not useful. A conventional layout would have looked better and would be more functional. All of that said, kudos for the effort and the great deal of work that it took.
Ruettiger7 years ago
FWIW There is a specific percentage of shrinkage of aluminum that can be used when casting. I forget the figure but I am sure google could help out those wishing to cast these.
Nice Idea! I would make the aluminum parts from 3/4 plate and do the dowels from aluminum pipe. I might even try a sling seat with pipe only on the front and back. This seat could be highly marketable with a little refinement. Very "Industral Looking" Good Job!
Ruettiger7 years ago
I like it and I like the effort you went to to maintain symmetry. I think it would look realy cool in a dark cherry stain with the cast brackets/joints polished. What did it cost to cast the joints?
technick297 years ago
This is a really well done project. Great design and follow through.
beerboyone7 years ago
Great looking chair. What made you decide to put the spreader dowels at the front and back instad of the sides?
Look at the way they join the legs - fixing the dowels this way round just needed holes in the legs; fixing them the standard direction would have required more custom-cast fittings.
mycroftxxx7 years ago
The chair reminds me of something out of Nomadic Furniture, very nice.
wholman (author) 7 years ago
timbudtwo the noodles are wrapped in two layers of black fabric, they should be straight with the sun, long as you keep it indoors. that being said, yes, they are fragile in respect to uv. but i live in the desert, and they've been coping well the last six months.
BOXHARD7 years ago
hahaha... MUST have been an architecture project... My older brother is an architect and I remember helping him build some crazy stuff when he was in school. Over all, very nice project though. I like how you cast the braces rather than cutting them from sheet stock.
timbudtwo7 years ago
These guys tend to get destroyed out in the sun, so perhaps when these guys wear out, you can have a jig of some sort where you can cut them to size, then just slice them down the center so you can slip them over the dowels when/if these guys start flaking up. Really neat design. It looks homemade, but then it has that modern design flair to it. Cool
Which 'guys'? the chairs?
Haha, i was not very descriptive. The fun/pool noodle deals tend to break down in the sun. It might be helpful to have them be replaceable.
wholman (author) 7 years ago
shooby i graduated from virginia tech about a year ago. all the drawings are by hand, and the scans don't even pick em up that great, but i'm not a big fan of computer drafting.
shooby7 years ago
Nice line-weights on the elevation, and pretty cool design. Where do you go to school?
gmoon7 years ago
Really nice project--and very informative about the process, too. Thanks! Love the "pool noodles.." It even looks comfortable.
LinuxH4x0r7 years ago
Very nice! Looks really sturdy