Dumbo Chair – Ellie Nonemacher


I think architects and designers are so enamored by the design of a fine chair because of its ability to capture the moment of form follows function in the most minimalistic sense.  A chair design has to have control of structure, material integrity, and a spatial relationship to the human body.  Each corner, joint and connection on a chair is tangible and has to flow to realize a fine chair.  Myself I am a sucker for minimalistic chair designs from Eames to Mies, but recently Ellie Nonemacher’s “Dumbo Chair” (perfectly named) caught our eye.  A graduate interior design student out of the University of Oregon shows an acute eye for detail and craft in her bent wood design.  Certainly having Nils-Ole Zib, a well known designer and furniture-maker, as your professor certainly helps, but Ellie’s moments of connection in the chair appear effortless.  Check it out after the jump!

STUDENT: Ellie Nonemacher
University of Oregon
COURSE: Graduate Student – Interior Architecture


“The Dumbo Lounge Chair consists of three visually separate elements: the seat, the backrest, and the frame.  While the frame embraces the structural aspect of a chair, lifting a person from the ground, the molded veneer seat and backrest cradle and hold a person. The chair is designed to be used as a lounge chair so the seat and backrest are angled and lifted off the ground slightly to embody this notion.

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It is a chair that looks to define the space of someone sitting in it and pulls privacy and shelter concepts, the ears, into this design. The notion of universal design is also investigated in this chair project. Hence it can comfortably seat someone who is 5’10” and one who is 7’0” tall, while holding the differences in weights and allowing different seating variations too.  Starting with the basic form and necessities to building a lounge chair, an evolution of iterations grew to finally consist of a minimalized and simplified chair while retaining the main concepts.


The Dumbo Chair is completely made out of wood.  Solid ash was selected for its durability and strength and veneered beech was selected for its molding and bending capabilities.  Two large molds were created out of plywood and sheet metal that would shape the veneer seating elements. These rough shapes were then cut and sanded into the organically shaped seat and backrest.

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Final sizes and dimensions were determined after being molded and then the maximum amount of material was trimmed away while retaining desired comfort level, concept, and size. The structure that embraces the seat and backrest were created out of a solid slab of ash.  It was cut, planed, finger jointed, and sanded to form the structural legs. Final adjustments were made during the construction process, adding spacers for visual and structural needs.” – Ellie Nonemacher


Check out the rest of Ellie Nonemacher’s work at www.ellienonemacher.com

Also make sure to check out her design blog at www.5letterdesign.com

FUTURES+ Original Post

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