Mowo’s Bufa Chair
I don’t know about you, but when I hear terms like “puff” and “pleat,” “scrunching” and “ruching,” or even “pinch” and “gather,” I think high fashion, not high design. And when it comes to high fashion–with the exception of a single epic joke I know about a tailor and a little old Yiddish lady–I’m at a profound loss. All of which means that the Bufa Chair by Polish Design studio Mowo requires a bit of improvisation on my part, since the piece solicits the aforementioned adjectives rather than the usual suspects like “geometric” or “clean lines.”
Bufa Chair. Designed by Mowo.
The chair is definitely a design anomaly. Bufa is constructed of a broad swath of heavy felt stitched into a structurally-sound configuration atop a thinnish metal frame. And while the material choice alone is enough to distinguish Bufa from other usual suspects (read: rigid foam in fabric or leather), the piece’s real novelty is owed to the extra fabric “folds”–for lack of a better term–and string pull-throughs that allow users to make customized adjustments. The feature is essentially a high-tech version of a drawstring waistband, achieved through the expert ministrations of some un-named Polish costumier who’s responsible for the clever, oblong niches that take-up or let-out fabric to achieve the desired appearance and seating surface.
Mowo says Bufa is “inspired by attire and tailoring detail… an attempt to find furniture pattern and a search of the new solution to replace the traditional upholstery.” That it is. And consider the objective of giving design a bit of a nudge and a shake well met. But neither does that mean that Bufa is operating in a vacuum. In fact, I see the piece as an admirable synthesis of previous work with felt (see Felt Up and the Felt Chaise) and the concept of “material as structure” (see Pierre Paulin’s F44). But that observation is certainly not meant to take anything away from Bufa–just the opposite, in fact. For what better complement to be compared with a modern Master like Paulin? In any case, there’s no doubt that Bufa achieves the goal of dynamic transformation, or, as Mowo describes it, “the pleated material creates a spatial ornament curving the shape in the most genuine way.”