Cio Side Chair Wins the 2019 GOOD DESIGN™ Award

CIO Solid Wood Ladderback Tilted
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We are proud to announce that our Cio Dining Chair won a 2019 GOOD DESIGN™ Award.

The GOOD DESIGN™ Award is the oldest and the world’s most recognized program for design excellence worldwide. It is awarded by the Chicao Athaneaum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. They received a record number of submissions this year from over 47 countries and awarded over 900 product designs and graphics. We’re honored to be one of them! You can find our listing and more winners here: https://www.good-designawards.com/award-details.html?award=35003

Brian’s thoughts on this gorgeous and comfortable chair:

Integrating traditions that span millennia, I have woven ancient inspiration into a form that genuinely stretches the envelope of wooden seating: my new Cio chair.

Cio (pronounced “chee-o”), like all of my seating designs, begins with the human form and a tree. 

Once seated, everyone immediately realizes an uncanny comfort for a wooden chair.

Bottom of the Cio Seat

The heart of the chair’s structure lies in the seat.   A sculpted oak frame supports the primary stress of sitting.  Two and a half tenons in each corner merge the seat frame’s strength with the legs whose form swells adequately to accept them all at this junction. The shape of the seat supports much of the weight of the sitter under the thighs.  This shape eases pressure on the sitz bones so well that I have canceled plans to offer a padded seat with this design.  The solid wood seat is more comfortable than a padded one because our own padded thighs create the comfort. 

To keep the seat light and flexible, I drew inspiration from a 3000-year-old idea: linen composite.   Alexander The Great protected his armies with linen composite, a remarkably strong material that now replaces carbon fiber in many manufacturing applications including jet interiors, car and motorcycle bodies, and even boats and skis.  I am the first to integrate this ancient idea into wooden furniture elements to enhance a structural matrix. The composite binds the parts of the seat, stabilizing each and allowing a flexibility that eases stresses which would otherwise concentrate at the mortise and tenon joints.

Side View of Ladder back Side Chair

I increase the comfort of the chair by steam bending the back slats both across the grain and along the grain to conform perfectly to the lumbar and thoracic curves of the sitter.  The joints at the end of each slat curve as well, elegantly following not just the sitter, but the form of the chair itself.  Each slat flows to the next so smoothly that the sitter cannot feel the edges.

Re-thinking how each joint transfers strength to its adjoining member, I redesigned how the traditional mortise and tenon joint works.  Every tenon in this chair tapers to meet a matching taper in the mortise.  This change establishes the strongest glue bond possible between the two, as well as increased mechanical strength.  Tests in my shop demonstrated a considerable increase in strength transfer compared to traditional mortise and tenon joints.  This added strength in each joint allowed me to minimize the mass in the whole chair and eliminate the undercarriage typical of ladderback chairs. The frame is lighter, easier to move around a dining table, and elegantly slides under a sitter with minimum effort as one eases into position at dinner.  The entire dining chair weighs a mere 8.5 pounds.

Beauty combines with comfort in the Cio chair. This reimagined Appalachian ladderback embraces contemporary and timeless aesthetics. With my feet in history and my eyes on the future, I created a piece of art which fits seamlessly into a modern furniture landscape. This transitional design may be inserted into a spectrum of home designs from traditional to contemporary – even mid-century modern!

All in all, Cio represents a complete re-imagining of age-old ideas and spins them into a whole new form, reviving traditions and opening up new possibilities.  My Cio chair lives up to its Latin meaning: renew.

Cio chairs surrounding a dining table

My furniture expresses my view of humanity, combining beauty and comfort in a luxurious wooden furniture collection. With thirty-six years of designing wooden furniture, I’ve fostered a deep well from which I draw inspiration and wisdom. Through studying, dissecting and mastering time-honored techniques, I found enlightenment through a revered group of masters – some of whose names have been lost to time. Their collective wisdom drives every decision I make. This rich background of experience and study solidifies my understanding as I forge new concepts. I honor tradition while innovating, blurring the boundary between furniture and art while maintaining a focus on the usability of the piece. By bringing these ideas into physical form and sharing them with the world, I find a purpose that keeps my spirit and imagination vibrant and, I hope, inspires others to experience the joy of genuine inspiration, masterfully crafted. 

The Cio Dining Chair is our third GOOD DESIGN™ Award winner. The other two are:

2017: Sculpted Fanback Arm Chair

2016: Grand Lily Arm Chair

What a fabulous way to end 2019. We look forward to even more wonderful new designs appearing in 2020.

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