Some real hot curves by OBJECTS WITH NARRATIVES – Coloring steel with a flamethrower
The Swiss-based studio OBJECTS WITH NARRATIVES developed a tempered steel curved-shaped chair with an interesting visual experience: we explore their original craft process between welding and wild flames.
OBJECTS WITH NARRATIVES is exploring the physical entity of design, shifting from aesthetics and function to objects powered by narratives. “Our goal is not just to be another label, but rather a creative space where designers can be storytellers.” as they like to say.
Swiss-based brothers Nik & Robbe Vandewyngaerde created a chair by physicalizing an ergonomic curve: “By bending three abstract labile planes along this trajectory and intersecting them, a structural entity is emerging. The two-dimensional line becomes a spatial object, which on its turn creates complex three-dimensional curves” they explain.
The narrative was born out of a very simple question: how can one relate to an object in the 21st century when the community has an overabundance of tools to create any abstract shape possible?
“We got inspired by looking at one of the fundamentals of sketching where almost any creative idea starts. Something so simple -understood by anyone- yet so strong, The curve.”
However, behind this simple structure lays a complex process of steel working. From welding to tempering, this chair is a true masterpiece, bringing together the technicity of materials and art.
“Our stories never start from an aesthetic consideration, yet don’t necessarily need to solve a problem. It is for us more important to raise questions and discussions so one can form affinities with their object.”
Speaking a little more about the process, OBJECTS WITH NARRATIVES explains it in some simple terms: firstly, one long 3mm steel plate is rolled into a curve before being cut into three pieces, resulting in three identical curves. “Since the narrative talks about lines, we had to use a very thin yet strong structural entity like steel that allowed a 3mm thin plate.”
Interested in knowing more about welding processes? Head to Friction Stir Welding: The future of solid-state welding.
The plates are welded together using a unique technique so the intersecting lines are still very clear before the steel gets polished and cleaned. Once assembled, the object is tempered with a flamethrower very carefully to reach its specific temperatures with its according colors.
“When steel gets heated up over 200°C, it changes characteristics and as a by-product undergoes a transformation in colors which is called tempering. These color changes are very fragile and need to be carefully monitored. Max Lipsey is a specialist in this treatment and guided to the wanted result.”
After this very complex tempering process, the piece is being cooled down while its color pattern starts to take its final shape. “The finished object turns into a gradient of colors that accentuate the curves and intersections, highlighting the material properties” they explain.
Last but not least, the chair gets coated with a thin protection layer in order to stop the oxidation process. “We, as consumers, barely ever encounter raw steel since it is mostly treated, yet after doing some research on the process of this material, we discovered some of its beautiful material characteristics, namely its ability to change color when being tempered.”
The end product is a very thin and elegant sculpturally shaped chair. The dynamic of its form is highlighted both by its shape and its chromatic gradient. Last but not least, One Curve Chair was selected as one of the finalists for the Henry van de Velde Belgian Design Awards for its originality and original story.
Are you into unconventional processes of production? Don’t miss Neal Aronowitz moulds flexible concrete into sculptural furniture.