A Chair for JFK

Structural Chair Design and Analysis

University Of Waterloo
Lessons in partnership, assistance, and mutual reliance
Team Members: Miguel Sanchez, Dennis Tang

As something of a former tradition at the University Of Waterloo School Of Architecture, each pair of students must design, analyse, and build their own chair. Based on an affinity for the former President of the United States, we decided to create a chair celebrating the strength of a man whilst simultaneously highlighting his health-related shortcomings. As our brainstorming continued, the incorporation of his wife became apparent in the design. Soon, the design of one chair became two, and the relationship of strength and cooperation became a central theme in the design.

The course required the chair to transform in some way. In our design, the two chairs interlock together to form a bonded lounger; both chairs work together to create a strong bond whilst supporting the one in need.

Much of the exercise in the chair project laid in our lack of woodworking skills. We desired to use traditional forms of joinery to achieve our result. However, having never worked with wood prior to this experience, many of the nuances of furniture building were foreign concepts: tolerances, moisture content, and building strategies, to name a few. Despite the quick learning curve, we overcame these obstacles and were able to produce two beautiful pieces of furniture.

The design of the chair is something of an accolade to a former President and the First Lady. Their grace and dignity painted the contemporary portrait of Presidency for many Americans. Many mimicked their poise, charisma, and style; the Kennedys elegance was timeless, and our chairs sought to achieve the same sense of effortlessness.

The first chair, ‘Jackie’ is the smaller of the two chairs. Proportioned to Jacqueline Kennedy’s height, the lower chair featured a slot on the right side of the chair. When combined this chair’s back and banister transforms into the lounger’s seat.

The second, ‘Jack’ is the larger. Similar to the ‘Jackie’, this chair utilised the proportions of John F. Kennedy. The taller chair has a slot on the left side. Combined with the ‘Jackie’, the back and banister of this chair becomes the lumbar support for the lounger.

Much like the inspiration for the chair, this project taught us much about cooperation and support. It certainly takes two to tango; the combination of our strengths nurtured this project from fantasy to reality.

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© Dennis Tang 2017