The 'Kinetic Sculptor' Theo Jansen explores the boundaries between art and engineering in the creation of 'Strandbeests'. These skeletal behemoths passively wander the beaches near his home. They move under their own power by collecting energy from their environment with an elaborate mechanical mechanism converting the kinetic energy of the wind into oddly lifelike stepping motions. Their parallels with other lifeforms extend further, the design process is literally an evolutionary one, the size and placement of various members are determined by genetic algorithms iterating thousands of random combinations and selecting the best ones to seed the next generation. Theo Jansen refers to his varying designs as species of Strandbeest and in fact regards his creation as a new kind of nature.

Our project is the imagination and creation of a chair inspired by the work Theo Jansen. Like his Standbeests, the chair has a dynamic, symbiotic relationship with its environment, specifically its occupant. It exists in two states, the first, its default, passive state resembles a flat bench with side table. Its alternative state is produced by the user sitting on the raised portion of the chair. His weight causes the chair to undergo a transformation. In what feels like a momentary collapse, the chair is actually reconfiguring itself to conform to the users body. The symbiosis is not a momentary phenomenon; this secondary state is in fact structurally reliant on the occupants weight to sustain itself. When the occupant decides to unseat himself the chair is automatically reconfigured into its original form.


Excerpt from the film "STRANDBEESTEN" by Alexander Schlichter