Tip Ton

Sometimes, as ideas for new projects unfold, they bring together an unusual confluence of opportunities. Tip Ton was one such project. Barber & Osgerby were approached in 2008 by Lesley James at the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturers for advice on the furniture choices for a new secondary school academy that they were sponsoring in Tipton in the Midlands in the UK. There was a quick realisation that there were few compelling options on the market, and few that offered good design and good value.

  • Year / 2011
  • Manufacturer / Vitra

Barber & Osgerby set about investigating how they could design a chair that was good to use at a desk or table, ergonomic, beautiful, and economical. There was an opportunity to create a new archetype for sitting, a chair that would allow different seating positions, but unlike expensive and highly-engineered office chairs, have no moving parts or components.

When defining the brief, the inherent difficulties became clear. It was obvious that this chair must live as comfortably in a kitchen at home, as in a classroom or at a desk. It would have to be comfortable, visually memorable and beautiful. It would also have to be hard-wearing, easy to maintain, stackable, and easy to recycle.

Barber & Osgerby had been in discussions with Vitra for some time, and this exciting project seemed the perfect opportunity. Vitra were keen to take up the challenge, and this marked the start of the collaboration. Two years of fruitful and intensive design development and engineering followed to develop the Tip Ton chair.