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Adam Cornish Maki Chair x Cantarutti

Meet Adam Cornish. A multidisciplinary designer working from his independent design studio in Melbourne, Australia. Adam aims to create honest accessible products developed through research and by allowing products to find their natural expression. By combining strong, simple design solutions with a palette of natural tactile materials Adam strives to create individual products with visual and physical longevity.

“I am very interested in nature and our natural environment. When you look at nature you see how all the different organisms have evolved and adapted to suit their environments. I like to think of design in asimilar manner. If you look at your work as merely a rung on a ladder, slowly steering products in a certain direction, hopefully simplifying and improving them as we go,” says Adam.

Adam has now collaborated with Italian timber furniture manufacturer Cantarutti to create a collection which was developed during the global pandemic in 2020. The collection includes stacking chairs and armchairs and barstool also with and without arms. The family of products is born form the Maki chair DNA, embodying warm tactile plywood elements combined with a minimal vertical stacking frame. Suitable for both residential applications and high-volume commercial applications.

Read on to discover more about the collaboration and how Adam Cornish finds inspiration.

How did the collaboration with Cantarutti begin?

I met Cristian Cantarutti at Orgatec in 2018. We had a brief conversation at their stand, which turned into a briefing of sorts. I had been working on an efficient vertical stacking chair that aimed to not have the typical “contract” chair aesthetic. Something that would have a soft delicate aesthetic, more in-line with a chair you would use in your home. When I returned to our studio after the trip, I sent Cristian the prototype proposal and shortly we commenced working on the project.

Your work is often inspired by nature etc. Is this also true for the Maki chair?

The Maki chair project has no formal tie to nature like our Alessi Trinity project. However, the product very much adheres to my philosophy around the slow and gradual evolution of products. As product designers it is our responsibility to slowly steer projects in more positive directions, both from an aesthetic and environmental (circular economy) perspectives. The Maki chair is a new evolution of how a high volume chair can look and feel.

What was the design process like working during a global pandemic?

I was very surprised and impressed with Cantarutti’s commitment to continuing research and development during the pandemic. In hindsight it seems logical, but at the time many projects were paused or cancelled from the fear of the unknown. The chair was totally developed via video meetings and mailing of prototypes. Something which I must admit is more prominent now post pandemic. It was a very important and fun project for me during the pandemic. As we were in quite strict lockdowns, with limited time aloud outdoors and the inability to work side by side in the studio. These virtual collaborations really became a lifeline for expressing your creativity and to continue working.

What design features do you think attribute to the unique personality of this project?

For me the main design detail that drives this project is the ribbon like backrest. The inspiration for this component was discovered when sitting on a swing. I had been working on a V-leg style stacking chair and was trying to determine how to successfully unite the back with the seat and frame efficiently. When sitting on the swing I placed my arms of the side of the seat. This physical gesture got me thinking. Could the backrest of the chair start under the seat, loop all the way around the user and end up back under the seat? This construction essentially sandwiches metal frame between the plywood seat and backrest. This feature for me gives the chair its unique personality and the personality trait that is most recognisable at first glance.

Was it difficult to design a product that was both meant for the commercial and residential market? What are some of the main challenges you faced?

The visual language and ambiance of a product that is suited to both worlds was the hardest balance to strike. A balancing act of achieving a soft quant visual language, combined with the structural rigors associated with commercial applications. Also the unique high volume stacking requirements associated with commercial applications. So the toughest design challenges were fusing these two diametrically opposed outcomes. Although somewhat expressive, the chair is very minimalist in its thinking. Every Adam Cornish 2022 component is stripped back to only what is necessary. Even the sides of the looping backrest are utilised to guide the chair when stacking and control lateral movement when stacked in large volumes.

You have mentioned in previous statements that your design direction is heavily guided by the effect on the environment and negating these negative impacts. How is this sentiment reflected in your Cantarutti collaboration?

The Maki chair aims to be soft and tactile like a residential chair. Made from FSC and PEFC certified plywood. However it is often the hidden design details that give the product its true environmental footprint reduction. The Maki chair has been designed to pack and ship super efficiently, as this hidden aspect often contributes greatly to the products impact. Also every part has been designed for disassembly, allowing for each component to be separated into individual waste streams for recycling and replacement if needed throughout the products life span.

What is next for you and your studio?

We are lucky to work with very likeminded brands and design partners. These close relationships allow new products to develop more like research projects. If mutual trust is present it is possible to really work slowly and bravely on products that answer real world questions. Hopefully in the next year or two we will be able to showcase some of these collaborations. Some of these items include new furniture and lighting, as well as one product that is a new typology of sorts for the horticultural sector.

The Maki collection is available to order through Cantarrutti.



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