ulo chair by Ian Walton – WOW!

Ulo Lounge Chair

This is the ulo chair by Ian Walton. I liked it for its refined simplicity – striking a balance of clarity, elegance and modernity. Another good design execution – this isn’t that uncommon – or so I thought. Until I saw this video, which left me absolutely floored in awe:

Wow, the way it converts is just so organic, simple and elegant: if there was a user-interface award in furniture, this would definitely win my vote. And it’s not just a blind show-off of mechanical solutions either:

The chair has two configurations; an “Upright” configuration for more demanding applications such as working, studying or eating, and a “Lounge” configuration for leisure based activities and general relaxed postures.

The ulo chair was designed in response to the growing movement towards compact living spaces for sustainability. Prefabricated compact homes such as Alchemy Architects “WeeHouse”, Andy Thompsons “MiniHome” and Michelle Kaufmanns “Glidehouse” are all inherently sustainable due to both their size and the methods used in their construction.

Extremely thoughtful architecture and space design is being applied to such homes in order to make them feel less diminutive and consequently more sustainable. However I felt that this thoughtful approach was not reflected by the products within.

The changeover between each configuration involves one swift movement in which the rear legs “bend” and the seat shell pivots about its front connection point. This simplistic movement was designed in response to the plethora of poor multifunctional products which currently exist. These products are always difficult to reconfigure, and often perform poorly in one/more position.

The rear legs are locked straight internally via 8mm PTFE coated, hardened steel shafts. In order to unlock the flexible sections in these legs the user presses down on the horizontal bar at the rear of the chair with their foot.

Head on to Ian’s portfolio site (many other great works there too)!


6 comments so far

  1. hann on

    OH Wow!!! The seamlessness between both functions – and the mechanisms which purport them – are awesome!

    I can only wish such ingenuity in design and engineering gets carried forth to a greater level of elegance (and ease of use) for architecture – in the larger scheme of things!

    (If someone had this chair though, I’d most definitely play a prank on him/her by slowly edging up to the person from behind, and then stepping on the horizontal lever while he’s sitting on it!!!)

  2. Linyou on

    ha tt will be a gd prank. however u probably have to really kick the locking mechanism down as it will be under strain when someone is sitting on it. after which pray hard that you can get ur leg out in time before the chair and body come crashing onto it. hee

  3. Fatih yuzbasioglu on

    very creative idea but the product doesnt seem durable…it would be much better if the designer show the actual user-product relationship. but except that, i loved it!!

  4. Gems Sty on

    Fatih: Yeah, I was also hoping to see so much of a shot as someone sits on it. The absence of that casts a shadow on the validity of the joints, but otherwise it’s a really cool, organic mechanism for me!

    Linyou: Probably the *person* sitting on it will crash onto your leg first! πŸ™‚

  5. Ian Walton on

    Hello all,

    The chair was my final project in ID. The model I built is representational and NOT a prototype.

    Believe me I want to sit on it as much as you want to see me sit on it.

    The loading on the top flex joint is a moment force of .7 kg/m with a 100KG user. More than easily held in place by the 8mm hardened steel locking shafts.

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me.


  6. Gems Sty on

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks a lot for dropping by! Like I’ve mentioned in the post, the ulo chair was really a fantastic project for me!

    I get what you mean by really wanting to sit on the chair too – the other time due to time constraints I had to display a styrofoam prototype for a lounge chair at a design fair. It’s so sad to disappoint those who ask whether it can really be sat on, and having to answer “no” not because it was just a visual prototype at that time.

    Anyway, congratulations, and I’m sure you’d have a bright future ahead!

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