What happens when stuffed animals grow up?

Last week I attended Design Conspiracy in the Center for Design. DC is a weekly informal gathering of students, faculty and staff interested in design. Every Thursday at 6pm people come to the C4D’s studio classroom to eat pizza and swap knowlege. Anyone is welcome to share challenges they’re encountering in their design work or present updates on projects and get feedback.

At this Conspiracy Division II students Hallie Justice and Oliver Reams gave an update on their current project, The Kangaroo Kouch. A 2-person sofa inspired by the kangaroo form, the idea arose from our childhood relationship with stuffed animals, and how that relationship evolves as we mature. In the proposal on their blog, Kangaroo Kouch: Friend or Furniture? they state:

As children, we are often surrounded with little friends that take the form of stuffed animals.  As we grow, our stuffed animals stay small and lose their purpose – to provide a comfortable and cozy companionship.  We are interested in exploring an extension of this relationship while reversing the size ratio of them and us.

As they approach the start of their Division III, Hallie and Oliver were looking for a project to use as a sandbox in which they could experiment with combining all the skills they had acquired over their Hampshire careers before jumping into official Div III work. They were also interested in an aesthetically minded project that focuses on the intersection between artistic and functional design.

Sketches of the Kouch.

Sketches of the Kouch.

They presented several sketches and models of the design, including cardboard and wire models and a stuffed model that starts to convey the feel of the piece. Challenges include material selection, as the makeup of the frame can dictate how easy or difficult it can be to upholster; authenticity (should it look like a real kangaroo or be more stylized?); and function/comfort. They analyzed kangaroo anatomy to investigate how the piece should look and function.

 

Prototype models.

Prototype models.

One whimsical feature is the kangaroo pouch, which they envision as a detachable blanket that when used might give the sitter a sense of being embraced by the chair. It will also have a tail, contributing to the balance of the piece but also to the overall aesthetic.

Stuffed model.

Stuffed model.

As children we have stuffed animals for security and comfort, an object we can hold and love. It will be interesting to see what the responses are when that relationship is reversed.

Follow the Kouch’s progress on Oliver and Hallie’s blog at kangarookouch.blogspot.com.

 

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