Rachel Vosila: Designing one chair each week

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Published:  August 19, 2015
Eloise Mahoney

One a Week is the project baby of object designer Rachel Vosila in which she vows to build a chair every week for one entire year. In case your maths isn’t up to speed, that is 52 chairs, in 52 weeks. Say what!? Not only is it a lot of chairs, it’s just a one-woman job giving Rachel the chance to switch her creative gears into fast forward mode and be totally accountable for her design development. And of course, like most designers she’s probably lacking a little sleep and pulling a few all-nighters to get her chairs complete!
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The One a Week project joins the ranks of several other ‘weekly’ or ‘daily’ creations that see people committing to all sorts of projects under a time restricted constraint. There is a strong presence of time specific projects across social media where people can easily record and document their progress. Think the ‘photo a day’ phenomenon which spread like wild fire on Instagram or the 100 happy days challenge. Rachel was inspired by similar projects and took on the more challenging role of designing and physically building each chair. Her designs are fun, playful and certainly not your stereotypical chair. To recognise the One a Week project passing the half-way mark desktop asks Rachel to take a seat and share her project story.

Well done, you’re over the halfway mark for your One a Week project! Is it a struggle coming up with new chair ideas every week?
Thank you! When I started out I was really worried I would run out of ideas in the first few months of the project, but as I have come to terms with the work load and as I have been defining my own voice as a designer it has been fun pushing the boundaries of your stereotypical chair.

Tell us about your design background and education which led you to being an object designer?
I never studied art or design at school, so it came as a surprise to my family when I revealed I had been accepted to study at COFA. I studied a Bachelor of Design which broadened my narrow view of the industry (at the time) and elected to study object as part of the course. I fell in love with the interactivity between objects and their users, as well as the processes involved in production.

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Time restricted projects are popping up all over social media. But your project is a little more creatively challenging than simply taking a photo. Where did you get the idea to make 52 chairs in 52 weeks?
After finishing a year of full time work with no time to focus on my own design development, I wanted to be held accountable to generating original design consistently throughout the year. Also, I had always been fascinated by Martino Gamper who originally did 100 chairs in 100 days, which is a really interesting project and gave me faith in this being a realistic and achievable goal.

It’s a lot of chairs in little time. Do you build each chair solo or do you have wingmen/women helping you out?
I make all of them myself, from my little studio in Stanmore. It has been an invaluable experience in terms of developing my carpentry skills and expanding my knowledge of materials and their physical capabilities. I am also very fortunate to be surrounded by many talented artists and designers in my shared studio space, so am often lucky enough to have a helping hand with construction or aesthetic decisions when need be!

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What items in your toolbox can’t you live without?
I most definitely can’t live without my Japanese Pull saw, it cuts through even the hardest of timbers like butter. Plus my trusty rulers and spirit level help to stop me from making wobbly chairs!

Designers often work unusual, crazy hours as ideas can spark at anytime. Are you an early bird or a night owl designer?
It’s funny you ask because I was always most productive as at night, even for the first few months of this project. But as the months have passed and I have needed to find more time in the day I work what can be considered normal day hours! (Though I still often pull an all nighter when things need to be finished!)

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Do you have a particular design period/style that you like to incorporate in your designs?
I think my biggest influencer in terms of a design period is Bauhaus, from designers such as Marcel Breurer and Bruno Weil. Their colour palettes, tubular components and material choices are all so beautiful.

Between building chairs everyday what other hobbies do you enjoy?
After spending much of my week cooped up in the studio, I thoroughly enjoy any activity that gets me outdoors. Of late I have been exploring the National Parks in and around Sydney on hikes every weekend training for the Oxfam 100km!

What’s next after you finish the One a Week project?
I hope to launch a small studio focusing primarily on furniture and homewares in the next year. I plan to refine and manufacture some of the pieces I have come up with in this project, and build on all the design I have developed throughout the year.

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Continue to follow Rachel’s One a Week project on her instagram. We wish her luck for the second half of the chair challenge!

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All images provided by Rachel Vosila.

One a Week
Build one chair every week for the entirety of 2015.
Start Date: 5th January 2015
End Date: 3rd January 2016

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