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Interview with designer Tim Alpen - on model S-393

9 December 2011  |  Admin

We first encountered commercial stacking chair model S-393 at the 2009 Stockholm Furniture Fair. Our colleagues at Balzar Beskow were very keen to show off one of their latest designs. Nearing the eve of our S-393 installation at Clissold House in North London, we contacted the chairs designer, Tim Alpen, to have a chat...

Kirkhouse: How did S-393 stacking chair come about?

Tim Alpen: Personal reasons; I wanted to experiment with X-rail [section under and supporting the seat] design. Balzar Beskow had used X-rails on a few models already.

Kirkhouse: What do you gain with X-rails?

Tim Alpen: They're cheaper and easier to work with than box section structures - they have fewer joints. Also, there is some argument for X-frames creating a quieter chair; box section frames will reverberate sound like an audio speaker. The backrest also saves money in production - shaped Ply (9 layers of laminated Veneer) is low cost when you have the tooling Balzar Beskow has. Being able to use any shape of backrest gives you some freedom of design elsewhere. We were keen to use straight sections, which minimises waste.

Kirkhouse: I see, so the straight rear legs would otherwise have been curved if you hadn't had freedom over the backrest shape?

Tim Alpen: That's correct, and the straight leg section means that we're not cutting a curved shape out of the timber and throwing away half of the material.

Kirkhouse: Were you looking to meet a certain market?

Tim Alpen: Not especially; S-393 has been very popular with Universities, Schools, Pre-Schools and Hospitals. It's a lightweight stackable chair - it's good anywhere!

Kirkhouse: I've a feeling I've seen that backrest somewhere before? Did you take inspiration from anyone in particular?

Tim Alpen: Ha, you may recognise it from an Alavar Aalto Chair. It could be said to have inspired me.

Kirkhouse: Ok, thanks Tim - we'd love to speak to you again sometime - we'd particularly like to know more about KS395.

Tim Alpen: That would be good, thank you. We checked out some Alavar Alto designs and found model 66 may have inspired Tim. Tim Alpen's model S-393 can be seen in our wooden stacking chair range. You can also visit Tim's own website...

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