Back Story

The path to catering to big chunks of people begins by making something not only available at a large scale, but also available in different shapes, sizes and colors. Think of clothing, where you can find virtually the same jacket in blue, black, red and green in sizes ranging from XS to XXL.

Now the question is, does the designer iterate the jacket design 24 times (4 colors x 6 sizes)? Not in today’s world. Thanks to CAD (Computer Automated Design) designers have the ability to design once and scale quickly and easily with just a few clicks.

To try this concept, I once again submerged myself in Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD tool. And I didn’t look far for inspiration, as I found the object to design right under me.

The model chair -which I bought in a thrift store for $5.

I bought this chair about a month ago in a thrift store both for its looks and its price. Though the price tag was hard to say no to, there’s something to it; it’s simple yet if you look close there are some design aspects to it that give its middle school look a bit more sophistication.

Step 1: Sketching

Measure twice and cut once. Never mind, CAD can do Ctrl + Z.

After measuring the chair and thinking out the parameters I was going to use in order to easily scale the chair into different sizes, I began designing. However, my first iterations weren’t successful at all.

Step 2: CAD(ing)

I managed to design the chair as true to the real thing as I possibly could, but when it came to changing the parameters, the parts would move around and make a mess of the whole thing.

The first try at trying to change the parametric measurements of the chair.

It wouldn’t matter how many tutorials I’d watch on how to make the parametric design work, I still ended up with a piece worthy of a spot at an abstract art museum. It wasn’t until I went back to the sketchbook that I realize my biggest mistake.

Step 3: Epiphany

I was making everything parametric. And even though it makes sense when you think about re-sizing an object on the computer, it doesn’t when it comes to actually having to produce the chair itself. For example, think of it as if you were trying to go from a medium sized chair to a smaller one. Yes, the height would decrease, and probably the overall width and depth, but not necessarily the thickness of the wood. The leg would be shorter, but it wouldn’t make sense to have the legs be thinner. On one hand, because they would be thinner by millimeters making it ridiculous and tedious; but secondly, because it would be far more costly to have them made that way.

Step 4: Getting it right

So with my re-gained common sense— and a few more tutorials on how to join elements so they wouldn’t end up floating in space when I’d shrunk the legs, I managed to get the chair to change its overall size by just adjusting only 1 parameter of the whole design.

And here are the results!

Small iteration of the chair.
Medium sized chair.
And the larger one just in case Shaq needs to rest for a bit.

From a mess to the masses