Infusing Art with Technology

The Egg Chair

I decided to approach this project from a product design lens by inspecting quintessential furniture designs. The Egg Chair was the most interesting and common piece that I found, and has an interesting purpose that is apt for soft robotic adaptations. Designed in 1958 by Arne Jacobsen, the Egg Chair was designed for two key reasons; to provide some privacy for the occupant of the chair, and to provide comfort and a sense of protection by nestling the sitter. It is a wonderful expression of form, function, and design, where its purpose and shape are one and the same. My personal interpretation is that the fact that the human is being encapsulated by an egg – or at least part of one – has something to do with the circle of life and the natural order.

The egg chair in its simplest form
A modern take on the 1958 design
An iteration that hangs from the ceiling

My vision for the soft robotic adaptation would aim to improve the functionality of the chair, which in turn improves its value as a piece of design and art. Improving the comfort and privacy are exactly in line with the intent of the piece.

To achieve this, two different paths could be taken. One would use arms that would actuate to grip the sitter, such that they could walk into the chair and not realize that they had sat down. There are many types of solutions that have been developed that are soft arms, and they mainly differ by actuation method. One possibility would be an octopus-inspired arm that moves using muscular hydrostats made of SMA and polymer springs. These arms would not only make for a very adaptable and thus comfortable seat, but provide a sense of security through their pressure and grip.

Soft Robot Arm Inspired by the Octopus,

Another possible method would be to use inflatables to surround the occupant, providing the ultimate in comfort and security. Similar concepts have been implemented on much smaller scales, as robotic inflatable grippers, so the concept is fairly well documented. The pressure on the sitter would be extremely comforting (or possibly extremely uncomfortable), making it a great solution for the egg chair design.

Inflatable Particle-Jammed Robotic Gripper Based on Integration of Positive Pressure and Partial Filling,

In either implementation, the purpose behind the chair is realized to a further extent, which makes the changes artistically valuable.

Leave a Reply