Raphaël Hoesli’s O-Thirteen: Crash Landing Soon in a Field Near You

The easy joke about Raphaël Hoesli’s O-Thirteen aluminum seating concept is that he brainstormed the idea one October morning a couple of months back when the Swiss incarnation of National Enquirer picked up some obscure story from overseas about a boy floating over the plains of Colorado in a rudder-less silvery balloon. Though stranger things have certainly happened, I can’t presently think of an odder source of inspiration for a contract seating arrangement, which is what the Lausanne-based student of Switzerland’s EPFL and ECAL programs in Art, Design, and Mechanical Engineering seems to have in mind with O-Thirteen.

O-Thirteen. Designed by Raphaël Hoesli.


The voluminous skill set should serve Hoesli well as he endeavors to bring O-Thirteen to living, breathing fruition. When I first saw the O-Thirteen rendition, I speculated that the name signified the unusual achievement of an odd-sided polyhedron, but after counting out 12 sides, I’ve revised this interpretation, assigning the interior circular shape circumscribed by the outer seats with the signifying moniker. In addition to evoking the aforementioned “balloon boy” incident, O-Thirteen reminds me of the handful of saucer-themed pieces we’ve seen over the years on 3rings—Emmemobili’s UFO Table and Daniel Becker’s Melting Light among them. This means that the prototype has a space-age aesthetic, suggesting both the era of 1950s b-movie kitsch as well as the future envisioned by pop culture icons ranging from Woody Allen’s Sleeper to E.T. to the more recent Wall*E. The connection to high technology seems crucial to Hoesli’s concept, since both the functionality of the implied interlocking feature and the structural integrity of the modular seats are as-yet unrealized. No doubt, as the future draws near, Hoesli will work out these simple kinks—perhaps with the aid of artificial gravity and enhanced magnetism he’ll have the 12 parts of O-Thirteen up and running in no time.

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