AUS professor wins A’ Design Award and Competition for Stratum chair design

A faculty member of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) received an international design award for his work Stratum at the A’ Design Award and Competition.

Ammar Kalo, Assistant Professor in Architecture and Director of the CAAD Labs, created the Stratum Chair, which was awarded the Silver A’ Design Award in the category of Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design by a grand jury panel.

The A’ Design Awards are presented each year in Italy and consist of internationally influential press members, established designers, leading academics and prominent entrepreneurs.

The chair was born out of Kalo’s desire to create a piece of furniture that expresses its function and the material it uses organically. The unique formal and visual qualities of the chair are derived from the ways in which the plywood strata layers are carved to highlight the product’s utilitarian features. Its termination at the ground with three legs also accentuates the design’s edginess and gives it a sense of delicate balance.

“For this project, there were a number of sources that helped inspire its formal qualities— from the sinuous shapes of a human body, to the works of Hector Guimard, to rock formations carved by natural forces,” explained Kalo. “The joint came from studying religious book stands that are carved from a single piece of wood and consist of two interlocking parts. The swiveling action of the furnishing also helps reduce its original volume by half, making it easier for shipping.”

The main components are composed of laminated sheets of Baltic Birch plywood. Most of the chair’s features, such as its sharp edges, the flowing form of its back and seat, as well as the central connection, were planned to leverage the extra axis of freedom that a 5-axis CNC milling machine offers. Multiple iterations of these concepts were produced to properly calibrate the fabrication process while maintaining a strong design language.

“The project took about one month for concept design, then a month and a half for production. In addition to being the first prototype, it took a bit longer than expected because I was learning to use new tools, both digital and physical, to complete the project,” said Kalo.

“The most difficult part of the work was figuring out the interlocking connection detail. This involved multiple studies in terms of design, but also from fabrication point of view,” he concluded.