Francois Azambourg is the modern embodiment of the quintessential renaissance man, Leonardo daVinci: part scientist, part inventor and full-fledged artist,designer, and visionary. His designs are birthed from his deep commitment to the lightness and economy of materials, re-imagining the construction of everyday objects and creating sophisticated forms that reference the many interesting, and complex organic structures found in nature.
Azambourg’s innovative, future-forward, visionary and scientific based approach to design has garnered him numerous prestigious design awards including: Designer Prize at the Paris Furniture Fair (2009); Grand Prix du Design de Paris (2004); Villa Medicis Hors les Murs (2003); CTBA Competition “Furniture Materials for the Future” (1994); and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris “Moving Competition” (1985). Lighting and furniture designs by Azambourg, considered by many as one of the elite members of the French Contemporary Furniture Design Movement, can be found in prestigious galleries, private collections and high-design shops including Gallery R’Pure, Galerie Kreo, Ghaade, Cappellini, Domeau & Peres, and Poltrana Frau.
Francois Azambourg’s research and development for new lightweight materials for Hermes and Mandarina laid the groundwork for his wood-foam sandwiches patent. Soon after registering the patent for the wood-foam sandwiches, Azambourg patented his design for the “Pack Chair”, in 1999. Unfortunately, the “Pack Chair” didn’t catch on at that time, apparently the production markets were unable to see the potential the “Pack Chair” could offer, and only five prototype chairs were created.
Fast-forward, ten years and we can easily see that the 3-D textile “Pack Chair” was an extraordinary example of Azambourg’s future-forward vision and unrivaled ability to re-imagine common objects using a hybrid approach composed of technology, science and the arts; that is sure to revolutionize the way in which furniture is constructed, and distributed in an age where online shopping for home decor and furniture is more the norm than the exception.
The science behind the self-constructing “Pack Chair” relies on the use of polyurethane foam in place of metal, wood or other “typical” furniture structures. The “Pack Chair” comes packaged in what can be described as a brick-sized package. The “Pack Chair” is deployed by the simple act of turning a button a few times (this action initiates a chemical reaction that mixes two solutions that fill an impermeable polyester shell with the resulting polyurethane foam), shaking the chair for about 10 seconds, and then allowing the chair to cure and set for ten minutes prior to use.
Francois Azambourg’s most recent works were on display at the 2009 Design Miami show. Of particular interest to me were his unique “Douglas Jars”, “Linen 94” chairs and the “Grillage” bench seat.
The Azambourg “Douglas Jar” (originally conceived for a collaboration with the International Center for Glass Craft at Meisenthal ) is created with an unconventional approach, instead of using a “turn and blow” methodology, Azambourg did not turn the molten glass. He allows the glass to remain stationary in the Douglas Fir mold, which imparts upon the glass surface imprints of the wood’s grain. Each time the Douglas Fir wood mold is used the hot, glowing glass scorches the interior of the mold causing the furrows of the grain to deepen creating a new surface thereby making each glass jar unique.
Pictorial of the Azambourg “Douglas Jar” production process at the International Center of Art in Meisenthal, France (below).
Francois Azambourg is well-known for his chair designs and has been quoted as saying, “[I]n the world of design, the chair is queen”. Without a doubt, he is at the forefront of innovative design when it comes to chair design and that innovation was on full display at Design Miami 2009. Three of his famous chairs held court, the Mister Buggatti (left rear), the Grillage bench (left forefront), and the Linen 94 chair (right).
The Linen 94 chairs are created from a combination of resin and natural vegetative materials, Flax fibers, which are lighter and use less energy than glass fibers. The “Grillage” is produced from an unfolded stainless steel sheet, crumpled, welded, and then lacquered. The Mister Bugatti chair, first debuted at the 2006 Milan Furniture Fair, created with welded copper (2/10th mm thick-very light!) and then injected with polyurethane foam.
All images copyright of respective owners.