Our design feature today is the “Spiral Stool”, winner of a Product Design Golden Pin at the Golden Pin Design Award 2016 ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan. The Spiral Stool is a DIY cardboard stool, which can be unfolded and recycled. By following simple assembly instructions, you can finish it within 15 minutes without hardware or glue. The high quality recyclable cardboard creates a beautiful and tight surface for people to sit on or use as a low table. Inspired by ancient wisdom, the stool features the mortise and tenon joint method traditionally used in woodwork to connect the eight pieces of cardboard sheets together. The key aspect of designing the stool is in the precision and tolerance. The joints have to fit perfectly — a one millimeter gap could make the structure weak — and the structure must be strong enough to withstand the weight of a maximum 100 kilograms. This stool is suitable for both children and adults, and can also be configured to become a low table.
Husband and wife team Daisuke Nagatomo (from Japan) and Minnie Jan (from Taiwan) first met in 2004 when studying design at graduate school with Columbia University in New York. They worked together in New York for five years before moving to Barcelona. When they moved to Taiwan they formed a design and architecture company, MisoSoupDesign. The name of the company picks up the combination of concepts coming from Daisuke’s Japanese background and the international context in which the couple works. “Miso” in Japanese language refers largely to the paste made from soybeans, salt and kojia, mixed with Dash stock to form misoshiru (Miso Soup). Miso is also the Japanese word for “brain”, connecting with the thoughtful preparation of products and spaces by the studio. Daisuke and Minnie talk about the background behind the Spiral Stool design.
In 2012 they first started working on design of a prototype for the S Cube, a child seat and adult stool. Using digital fabrication for our prototypes they realised that cardboard would be the easiest and most affordable material to work with. They were then invited to create material for a shop space using cardboard, a shelf, a wall, a coffee table. This time they cut back on the glue element used in their earlier work. In 2014 Daisuke and Minnie were working to design a cardboard pavilion in Tainan. With access to machines for folding and cutting cardboard they realised that their work could lead to an affordable product accessible by home buyers. The furniture product would need to be affordable, good looking and able to be assembled at home. They tried a few prototypes to test the joints and the tolerance of cardboard material, discovering that the structure becomes weak when the joint gap exceeds 1 mm. They were inspired by the Japanese origami art form which focuses on humans folding and assembling paper. They were also inspired by the machine’s capacity to cut, shape and score cardboard. Daisuke and Minnie are committed to sustainability and creativity. With this product they hope to provide an environmental friendly furniture range that adds a sense of beauty to modern living.
Jury member Cheng-Neng Kuan, Vice President at Shih-Chien University in Taiwan, comments on the work:
“The work is made of corrugated cardboard–a material that offers a sense of familiarity and comfort – that is folded into a clean triangle shape. The structure of this work is sound. Even if it becomes worn with use, it can be fully recycled. The cardboard material allows children to draw on it, which gives each piece individual character and the potential for fun.”