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The Shimmer Chair and Table, designed by Gary Marinko

Elegant, lightweight forms, great durability

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16/10/08 - Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC) is a joint venture between the University of Western Australia and the Government of Western Australia’s Forest Products Commission. The overarching mission of ATC is to develop exemplar practices in the use of plantation and native timber from the context of environmental and industry sustainability.

The Shimmer Chair and Table, designed by Gary Marinko are paradigmatic of design-led research undertaken by ATC. Manufactured in native Western Australian eucalypt species of Karri, Jarrah and Sheoak they exploit the strength and aesthetic character of these timbers to produce elegant, lightweight forms of great durability.

Shimmer Chair - Constructed from solid timber and utilising the inherent qualities of Western Australian hardwoods in combination with sophisticated joinery techniques, the Shimmer Chair pairs a refined aesthetic with extreme durability.

This is the first design lead research project undertaken by the ATC. It grew out of the observation that the local furniture manufacturers discarded timber that had a cross section of 20mm x 20mm or less. In an effort to carry out the design according to sustainable practice we adopted this size as the maximum for the components the chair was to be constructed from.

It was also observed that timber furniture tended to be heavy, stiff, flat and rely on upholstery for comfort. This chair was to be light, flexible, textured and comfortable whilst still being constructed from only solid timber. The timber species Jarrah and particularly Karri which has long straight grain and great strength were suitable candidates.

Sophisticated jointing techniques were applied to the small timber sections to enable three way joints to occur; we know of no other timber chair to be constructed completely of such small square section components. The work on this chair has led to a new research project on the jointing of timber with small section sizes which will culminate in the development of a software design program for timber furniture.

Other manufacturing techniques such as steam bending and surface milling were also used in the fabrication of the chair, and a combination of these two techniques was harnessed to fabricate the distinctive woven back to the chair.

All components were sized to allow them to flex so that comfort was an integral characteristic of the components rather than being applied through upholstery. The surface milling applied to the seat battens provides the distinctive textured surface that ‘shimmers’.

In the final analysis the chair relies on being an integrated structure where all the joints and members work together to provide strength and flexibility.

The Shimmer Chair Details - Weighs less than 3kg and is constructed completely from solid timber of maximum cross section 20mm x 20mm. Certified by the Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute (AFRDI) to Level 4 for Fixed-Height Chairs (heavy domestic, general office, contract hospitality and executive use)

Shimmer Table - Designed to complement the Shimmer Chair, the Shimmer Table makes its own point on light and minimal structure and form. Distinctive timbers and finishes are paired with sophisticated joinery techniques resulting in a lean, functional form.

The design of the Shimmer Table was to be compli¬mentary to the Shimmer Chairs, so it has the same delicacy but it is not a literal copy of the Chair. It is based on the setting of various dimensional constraints which allow for the table’s legs to be made from 25 mm tim¬ber sections and for the table top from 3 and 5 mm veneers separated by end grain blocks and it is finished to a 6 mm edge.

This use of ‘thick veneer’ without a solid core behind adds considerable to the difficulty in obtaining stiffness and in controlling the moisture related movement of the timber surface. However it ensures that the table is suitably light in weight and has an appearance of solid timber.

The suitability of the constraints were tested through the making of physical and digital modals of the table, these tested the aesthetic and constructional parame¬ters of the project. When the design team was satisfied with the result of these exercises, a suite of technical drawings was produced to facilitate the production of the table prototype at our workshop in Narrogin.  The table top will be available in a variety of finishes.

The Shimmer Table Details
Materials: Juvenile Karri legs; tops of timber, laminate, painted finish or fiberglass
Dimensions: 1,700mm (L) x 850mm (W) x 720mm (H); 2,300mm (L) x 900mm (W) x 720mm (H)

Advanced Timber Concepts Research Centre (ATC)

The University of Western Australia
Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts
35 Stirling Highway
Western Australia
Tel.  +61 8 6488 1560
Fax. +61 8 6488 1501

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