Judges’ Pick: Patkau Twist Chair

Patkau Architects, Vancouver

Originally intended to be unveiled at this year’s NeoCon in Chicago, the three-piece Patkau Collection would undoubtedly have been head-turners, maybe even show-stoppers. Designed by Vancouver-based Patkau Architects for Nienkämper, the collection has everything going for it in terms of iconographic Canadian furniture design – modern, organic, and innovative uses of wood – not surprising given the anthology of building projects the firm has under its belt.

Individually and as a group, the three pieces in the collection — the Cocoon, Twist Chair and Bench – are evocative case studies in the evolution of one of the more bedeviling materials in industrial design: bent plywood. The Cocoon certainly illustrates the material’s poetic and sculptural potential, but it was the chair that commanded the most head-scratching attention from our judges, who know that when structures look simple, they are often decidedly not. Here, a patented process was designed specifically for the chair that “twists” two layers of Birch plywood in standard stain and finish to form the complex curves that gives the shell a truly minimal and elegant shape. Being sure not to distract from its gaze-worthiness, the shell rests on razor-thin brushed stainless-steel hairpin legs, powder coated satin black, creating an effect of grace and buoyancy while emphasizing the chair’s clean geometric lines.

“Sometimes less is more. The simplicity of this chair inspires both in aesthetics and construction. The usage of recognizable materials combined with a proprietary design process is what makes this chair speak for itself,” says Desmond Chan, Awards judge and co-founder of COFO Design Inc. “It’s clean and relatable, yet unique and innovative without any distractions. I look forward to taking a seat in this chair. Nicely done.”