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FALL HOME DESIGN | So SoCal / Furniture

Ahead of the Curve

October 04, 1998|BARBARA THORNBURG

"Five years ago, you could not have made this chair," says architectural designer Dorinne Mei Lee of "Twisting Arm Chair," which she created for Summit Design Studio. The versatile beech chair--with arms fashioned from one piece of wood that gently curves inward, then dips to form the legs--was made possible by new computerized technology. Her inspiration was the bentwood and molded-plywood techniques of American and European masters such as Eames, Thonet and Aalto as well as the wood craftsmanship of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. "The bowed-arm and cloud-lift side panels are characteristic of Chinese furniture," notes Lee, who simplified these details for a contemporary look. One Chinese design she didn't emulate, however, was the flat hardwood seat. "It's extremely uncomfortable," says Lee, who used suspended Pirelli webbing to give her chair flexibility. "Above all, I wanted it to be comfortable."

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