Shell Chair

This chair was the last piece of the plywood puzzle as Barber & Osgerby continued their explorations in form and structure. They were missing a chair to accompany the Shell Table, and realised that a paper-thin chair would present a set of interesting design problems, not least those of comfort and strength. Edward & Jay were still fascinated by creating structural form from folded sheet material, and these explorations gave the chair a straightforward character that pleased them. The form was more developed, yet still evocative of the white card models used in the design process. This contributed to the chair's physical and visual lightness. Although the form was again simple, the requirements of the design meant that the production process was pushed to its technical limits. Considerable finesse was required in the jointing of the components and, like the Shell Table, mechanical fixings were avoided. This was only possible because of the exceptional craftsmanship of furniture manufacturer Isokon Plus.

  • Year / 2000
  • Manufacturer / Isokon Plus

In 2007, the limited edition online gallery, 20 Ltd, asked Barber & Osgerby to produce a special edition of polished metal Shell Chairs. At the time, the studio was working with a metal panel-forming company in Coventry, experts in hand-finished metalwork.

The bulk of their work was in making bodywork for precision, high-performance (and sometimes one off) cars. Barber & Osgerby utilised this company’s expertise to produce the beautifully mirror polished finish that they were looking for. The simplicity of the plywood Shell Chair enabled it to be easily translated into 6mm aluminium.It was one of the few times that Barber & Osgerby created a new product by keeping the form of an original and changing the materials, the idea of which contradicted many established precepts. The paper-light chair became heavy, but, at the same time, the change in material gave the chair a completely new character.