This project explored balance. My goal was to create a stool that is simple at a distance and complex up close. It is a unique take on a common shape. It sits quietly, but, hopefully, doesn't disappoint. 



The product design studio at Carnegie Mellon is full of previous students' attempts at this project that they've left behind in Pittsburgh; my goal from the beginning was to build something worth keeping. I wanted to create something that was subtle and simply utilitarian. I wanted my stool to be the quietest and the smartest. 

It would be impossible to discuss this project without discussing the brief:

  • 5 board feet (plus a seat plate)
  • 5 boards or fewer
  • only right angle cuts

These limitations required consideration at every step. Within them, I imagined simplicity would thrive. Instead of creating a flashy object, I wanted to create something that had both beauty and utility. The restrictive brief provided an opportunity to practice refinement. The box is a simple, stable, and reliable construction, and a naturally good place to begin. I figured each of a box's three elevations should serve a purpose as the box is reoriented to establish different bases, increasing the utility of the product. Working within the material limits, I chose three heights that were different enough to serve different purposes and similar enough as to belong in the same composition: the coincidentally fibonacci numbers 5, 8, and 13 inches. My final form is a box from far away, but the artifact reveals its complexity upon closer observation. In another take on this project I would consider more complex joinery to further articulate this dichotomy. 

Ironically, my box stuck out like a sore thumb on crit day. Everyone else had made dynamic compositions with their five boards, wooden fireworks, and my crate paled in comparison in the studio environment. But the piece fits right in in my parent's kitchen, where it has replaced the ikea stool we used to reach the high shelves and keep my father company as he cooks. Below are some foam core iterations, where I explore other variations on my settled-upon theme.