Chair as Architecture by Corpo Atelier

‘Chair as Architecture’ is a design project developed by Corpo Atelier – an architecture studio established in Faro, southern Portugal, and founded by Filipe Paixão. Inspired by the ambiance of the Southern Portuguese cities, this chair, designed in 2016, is an exercise of architecture on a reduced scale: its lines mark facades such as a building while its seat can be easily recognized as the building’s roof. The final chair is a clean white structure enriched by a woven tule seat handmade by the hands of an experienced craftsman.

In a certain sense, we felt more like we were designing architecture, a structure, such as the ones we design for buildings, more than a chair specifically.

Corpo Atelier

Inspiration

Corpo Atelier: the ‘chair as architecture’ is inspired by the ambiance of the Southern Portuguese cities – no particular city comes to mind as a direct reference to the design, but mostly the overall ambiance of the Southern regions of Portugal. Common shapes and tones. Occasionally, and only after the chair was actually designed and produced, we would come across church facades with a similar outline, usually an arched entrance and rectangular bell tower, both in white, but we came to find those in various cities, Loulé, Tavira, Évora, etc..

In a certain sense, we felt more like we were designing architecture, a structure, such as the ones we design for buildings, more than a chair specifically. One can look at it, in its right scale, and read it as a chair, with four legs, a place to sit and two supports – one for the back and one for an arm – but viewed in a different scale, it could be a building, a covered space supported by four columns, or anything else really. Overall, we´ve applied the same methods to design it.

The creative process

Corpo Atelier: The design was quite spontaneous, as far as I remember. We needed chairs for the new meeting room and while talking about it I made a sketch of almost the exact same design we came to produce, with no specific intention or image in mind. It seemed like an interesting piece, as well as simple to manufacture. Only after we came to associate it with the imagery of southern Portuguese architecture. 

Materials

Corpo Atelier: Galvanized steel provided a solution to the desire to have it as slim as possible and plain white. The woven seat, however, took little more into consideration. The rigid white structure seemed too industrial and the seat should, in contrast, provide a warmer feeling to the piece. We would come to consider this woven solution as a way to humanize the piece, differentiating individually. 

Interview with Corpo Atelier | Photography Ismael Prata.