Silhouette Rocker





Introduction: Silhouette Rocker

About: I am an artist, furniture designer, cook and a packaging designer by day.

You never know when an idea is going to strike! This one hit me about three beers in on a lazy Friday evening. I wanted to create a rocking chair that was a little bit unorthodox. So this is what I ended up with.

If you follow the line of the frame you will notice that the seat and back are able to move independently of one another. The radius at the feet is acting as the joint. The tension from that tight of a radius acts as a spring. This is in part to do with the material I used. The sides are made out of .25 x 2 inch 6061 aluminum. This alloy has a very good memory if it is bent cold. The sides are bent from one continuous stick of aluminum. The two ends join end to end with one weld right in the middle of where the seat is bolted on. After a little grinding and powdercoat, there is no way to tell where it starts and where it ends. The sides were bent on a diacro , it was a feat, to say the least. trying to get the piece back into the bender after some of the last bends was virtually imposable. I can proudly say I got it right the first time not once but twice. The easiest thing in the world is to create something once, the hardest thing in the world is to match it identically.

The seat and back are made of .125 mild steel. They were hand bent with a jig I devised. I didn't have the money to have them rolled. The jig I created was two pieces of round bar(1.5" in dia.) welded about 2 inches apart. I then just slowly and tediously bent a little lengthwise and moved it through the two bars about an inch at a time. I had to be careful not to create facets. It had to be smooth. It worked very well.

Sorry, I didn't document it well I didn't really have a good camera when I was making it. The good photos I have up here paid for so the chair could be in a catalog for The Furniture Society of America's conference. The catalog was about furniture prototyping. They wanted pieces that "could" be mass produced, they weren't making any promises though(bummer!).

Thanks for looking and enjoy.

A few people have inquired about a video showing how the chair rocks. Well, here ya go.

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    22 Discussions

    Very nice design. I wonder if a version with better lumbar support could work the same way. Might be awkward since you have the back and seat moving independently. There's a challenge.

    I really like it a lot as far as visual elegance it ticks all the boxes but I personally can't sit very long if it's too hard on seat or back. At the end of the video you adjusted the "springiness" was this necessary or something else? well done.

    No, I was just showing how far it can bend if someone heavier them my self really gets rocking. No readjustment needed, it snaps back every time.

    The chair is amazingly comfortable, I do the "movie test" with all the chairs I build. If I can watch a movie all the way through without fidgeting, the chair passes.

    I really like the design.
    Does it rock back and forth like a real rocking chair? I'm just wondering how much rocking the design allows.

    4 replies

    The rocking is limited by the two stiles hitting one another about where the seat is. I have made a few traditional rockers and it will not rock as much as a chair with rails. I have noticed hough that most people start rocking hard when they first sit in a rocker, but after awhile they settle in to a subtle motion. That is where this chair excels. It allows for a very nice subtle rocking motion. The movement is probably about two to three inches.

    Thanks for the answer.
    I'd love to see the chair in action. A video would be cool.

    Would you post a comment once you did? This way I would get a not so I can check.

    This is not only a great looking chair I like how it can rock as well.

    Unfortunately I do not poses business sense. I just don't have time to learn either. I spend all my time designing and building. What I need it a business partner.

    1 reply

    enter it in some competition! you'll have exposure and maybe find some biz parners
    love the simplicity of your design!

    How well do you think it will stand up to the constant flexing of the frame before metal fatigue sets in?

    1 reply

    A very long time. It does not move far enough to cause material fatigue.

    Count me among those who think you have designed an attractive product with significant commercial value. If you couple your design skill with some entrepreneurship, you've got a chance of making good money from this.

    Excellent work. I've never seen anything quite like it.

    I'm reminded of early aluminum experiments by Charles and Ray Eames, and WWII-era British designers. And as to specific materials and design influences, I see Breuer circa '32-34.

    The draped steel seat and back are a revelation to me as a designer- thanks.

    Image copyright 1981 Christopher Wilk's Marcel Breurer: Furniture and Interiors, The Museum of Modern Art page 117.

    Breurer aluminum.jpg

    This chair could win a design prize from the furniture designers. It looks good enough to be one of those designer chairs they sell in fancy New York design stores for $4000 or so.

    1 reply