Born on the Isle of Wight, Harry Owen is the designer of the Joynt chair, which won an Honourable Mention at Compasso d’Oro this year. It is an innovative, surprising chair that will treat you to an unexpected experience.
Harry, your chair just won a honorable mention for Compasso d’Oro this year…how do you feel about it?
It’s a great privilege for me to see Joynt recognized alongside some of the industries leading projects. My thanks go to Lago Studio for the opportunity they provide for young designers, and also to my tutors at Bucks New University for their support whilst developing the project.
Harry, tell us something more about the concept of the Joynt chair. How did you come up with the idea of a joynt?
Initially the idea developed whilst exploring a traditional chair making process called steam bending, where strips of wood are heated using a steam box. The applied heat and moisture allows the timber to become flexible and bend to a specific shape. However that process is both costly and time consuming, and I wanted to explore other opportunities to bend a timber frame and provide comfort. The key feature of the Joynt chair is the flexible rubber in the backrest, which is a commonly used component from the automotive industry.
Which needs does the Joynt chair solve?
Naturally people are always moving, and the flexible back rest provides movement and support in a similar way to a complex office chair. Ideally it can be used in locations ranging from public spaces and offices, to schools and waiting rooms. I still have a couple of the early prototypes around my desk at home.
How important is the ergonomics when designing a chair?
Ergonomics and the understanding of interaction among the user is essential when designing anything. A number of prototypes early in the development allowed us to determine comfort before deciding details of how we wanted it to look. The coloured backrest is intended to indicate to the user that something is going to happen, but many people still seem surprised when they first sit down.
Do you think the ergonomics is an essentials or a plus today?
I think many factors including ergonomics are essential and should influence the development of a product. Costs, materials, proportions and forms are perhaps equally important. I think what we tried to do with the Joynt chair however was to make something innovative, playful, and of course comfortable.
Your chair in three words?
Innovative. Fun. Flexible.