I try not to let a week pass by without taking a good, long gander at the wares offered by our friends over at Chairblog, whose tenacity and persistence in ferreting out avant-garde designs never ceases to amaze. The site has been a great venue for the little-known and up-and-coming, very like today’s Yuya Ushida and his crafty Sofa_XXXX, a piece that has enlightened me as to the potential uses of the most utile of utensils. Too bad Ushida isn’t my neighbor, for try as a I might I just can’t get the local Chinese restaurant to forego the hefty packet of sweet and sour, spicy mustard, soy, and—yes—chopsticks that accompanies each delivery. The result is a surplus of said items mouldering in my cupboard. Not that Ushida employed condiments in the creation of Sofa_XXXX, but he did use chopsticks—exclusively chopsticks, in fact, to the tune of some 8,000.
Sofa_XXXX. Designed by Yuya Ushida.
An Engineering Coup And a Sustainable Ethos
Strictly speaking, Ushida’s project was not 100% green, since he procured all his materials from the humble environs of the local Sin Wah Supermarket. However, a “send Yuya your used chopsticks” program would rectify that in a quick swoop. Ushida constructed Sofa_XXXX from chopsticks whose size and shape he modified—cutting them down to just four different lengths, rounding the edges, drilling the ends, and linking them in a repetitive X pattern. The simple genius of the structure gives the piece a distinctive aesthetic (reminding me of the intricate supportive lattice of the famed “Twister” wooden rollercoaster in my hometown of Denver), while deeding reliable strength.
Ushida testifies that Sofa_XXXX has been weight tested by three full-sized humans (70Kg each). That means 8,000 chopsticks supports at least 462 pounds of person, which breaks down to about .06 lbs. per chopstick, not too shabby for an apparatus designed merely to transport dainty tidbits of stir-fried shrimp from plate to mouth. And that's not even the best part, for the very same Sofa_XXXX also doubles as Chair_XXXX. If you seek further enlightenment on that score, you’ll need to check out Ushida’s nifty prestidigitations on Vimeo, wherein he achieves said conversion with a simple tug and push. And for the lowdown on Sofa_XXXX’s genesis and construction, check out yuya vs design, which contains all manner of nifty graphs and conceptual comparisons, my favorites being an old-school folding wooden wine rack and a paper slinky—admirable artifacts to be sure, but everybody knows you can’t actually sit on either, especially not to the tune of 462 pounds.