Simply Good Design: The Rustic Wooden Chair Absolutely Anybody Can Build

Think you can’t build a functional chair? You’re more capable than you imagine, if the design is right. Originally designed in 1974 by Italian designer Enzo Mari, the Sedia 1 Chair was made for self-assembly, with a simple design, an easy build process and a highly sturdy result. The design was included in Ilse Crawford’s first Good Design Masterclass for Braun, a video series that aims to inspire “good design for a better future.” 

The series explore Braun’s three key design principles: simple, useful and built to last. These principles can be most valuable when it comes to our most basic needs, with items like eating utensils and the curved S-bend waste pipe on toilets, which almost singlehandedly ushered in the era of modern hygiene in the 19th century. The chair, Crawford explains, is especially important because it’s both sustainable and empowering.

“This is a really clear example of open-source furniture,” said Crawford. “These were plans that were published and available for anybody to use. This was a message, not in a bottle, but in a chair. [Mari] was a 1970s activist who wanted to shine a light on the culture of consumerism and inbuilt obsolescence. Aesthetics was really not the point. This was simply an intention to reframe the future.”

Furniture company Artek put the Sedia 1 chair design into production as a kit of parts, including pre-cut pine boards, nails and instructions, and it requires nothing but a hammer to assemble. But you can also build it yourself using your own materials. The original plans are in European lumber sizes, which makes it hard to follow here in the United States, but thankfully, some helpful woodworkers have translated those plans to our dimensions. Check out the plans on Medium.