Hee is a new chair from the company, Hay. It was designed by Hee Welling and turned into innovative reality in close cooperation between Hay and Gabriel. It's a good example of the innovative teamwork that Gabriel offers its customers through its recent offspring, FurnMaster.
"Hee was originally conceived as a an outdoor chair with visible metal threads in the seat and back," explains Rolf Hay, co-owner of the company that bears his name. "It's a very minimalist chair that's inconspicuous. As an alternative to the naked version, we wanted a more comfortable version of Hee with a more visible appearance."
The idea was to create a solution that underlined the chair's metal grid and at the same time, gave it a whole new look. Both the naked and upholstered versions should also be able to be used side by side.
Gabriel's development department introduced Rolf Hay to the technique of welding, which is used in the production of car seats - like those in the new Fiat Punto Grande. This is a special method in which the fabric and the filler are laminated, rather than sewn together, thus providing a major reduction in production costs. The idea was to apply electro-welding to the furniture industry, with Hee as the pioneer model.
"It was a really interesting idea that made the chair more industrial and opened up new possibilities both in design and competitive advantage," says Rolf Hay.
Fabric in function
Working from a 2D drawing by Welling, FurnMaster developed a sewn model to provide answers to a number of technical questions - and to show whether the idea and design were feasible in reality.
"We've run what was decidedly a development project for Hay, in which we helped create part of a piece of furniture with a new technique instead of just applying fabric," says Malene Timm-Andersen, industrial designer for FurnMaster. "We've had a relatively free hand to modify the design and details, and all the proposals and solutions were discussed in an open dialogue."
The fabric contributed to the design
A good example is the back cushion which consists of two parts that are assembled on the chair around the steel threads. FurnMaster came up with three proposed solutions for joining the front and back pieces: Three solutions that also gave the chair different appearances.
"It's been an exciting collaboration in which the fabric has contributed to the shape of the furniture," says Rolf Hay. "Normally, you design the furniture model first, then decide on the upholstery. It's interesting working with an upholstery supplier in a new dimension, and I've been highly satisfied with this teamwork."