Evolving furniture design

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Sprouting Back to School

It’s that exciting time of the season again where everyone starts planning their “First Day Outfit”. Back to school is almost a mainstream media holiday with every commercial and news topic somehow touching on the subject. Stores are making a push to sell everything from backpacks and notebooks to clothing and breakfast cereals, guaranteed to get your kid off to school on the right foot. In honor of this glorious holiday that little kids dread, and to college kids screams freedom like William Wallace, I hereby bring you some back to school furniture ideas with a little RawFern flair !


Ah yes, the dormroom classics; the inflatable chair, the foldable camping special, or the beanbag… What if you could wow your entire floor and score some points with your RA? The Tooth Brush Sofa is a sure fire win with drunk college kids whose biggest concern is where the next party is or what pajamas to stumble into class wearing. This piece was designed by a Buck University student as a tribute to the seriousness of oral hygiene, every college students first concern.


With the onset of the new college semester, getting acquainted with your new dorm room floor may be an understatement. With real estate being at a premium in most common rooms, why not make the most of it for relaxation and comfort? This carpeted masterpiece is reminiscent of a mini golf challenge from hell, but looks perfect for lounging or studying.


When does a door constitute a piece of furniture worthy of RawFern? Answer: When it flips open in half and becomes a ping pong table! Pure awesome. College fun sure has come a long way since I was taking doors off of hinges, and mounting them on top of dorm chairs.


If Ping Pong isn’t your  thing for the dorm room, how about pool? This sofa back flips into a pool table that is easy to stow away when company comes over and wants to play some N64 🙂


Since going back to school is an enterprise for selling products to the elementary school demographics, why not extend this outside of the basic supplies and cereal commercials? This ironic park bench is exactly what I had in mind! Styling an old school bench with a school playground slide brings me back to my childhood. It’s unique playful sense of nostalgia works fluidly with its functionality.

combined-couches-design_sofa                           couch-sofa

As any designer taking intro to color theory classes can attest; there is something extremely beautiful about the blending of colors and using gradient to tie pieces together. These cool sofas are any designers’ dream seat. They come in all sorts of colors and intersect beautifully. Designed by Philippe Nigro, see more about them here.

lego-shaped_sofa logo_sofa

When I was a kid, there was nothing I loved more than building things out of Legos. I always dreamed of having life size versions that could be built into real world items. Now it’s possible! These soft foam building blocks interlock and provide a comfy seat with childhood style. When you get bored with your current version, pretend you are the Hulk, knock it down, and rebuild it into a spaceship!


When all your studying for finals has you at your breaking point, here is the perfect chair to channel that stress. The concept is a perfectly beautiful steel cube that you need to smash and beat into something that resembles your dream chair. Now personally, being a minimalist and probably a little OCD, it would drive me nuts if this didn’t smash into what I planned. With a $6,000 price tag, I think the statement is really more about the ability to be frivolous with your trust fund and probably not in the cards with most budgets that consider ramen noodles top of the grocery list. Get one here.

Have fun on your first day back!!!


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RawFern Checks out Street Seats

After a couple of attempts to see this being thwarted by rainy weather, I finally got a beautiful day last week and jumped on the opportunity! The Street Seat exhibit is truly one of a kind for Boston. Designed and arranged by Design Museum Boston, and sponsored by companies including RedThread this exhibit puts creative ideas for outdoor seating on display in Boston’s Fort Point district.

I love the idea that a design exhibit can be demonstrated and shared with the public in its actual environment. The benches were picked from many submissions and placed strategically downtown for all to enjoy. The benches comprise a couple mile loop around one of my favorite areas of Boston to wander. You have an amazing view of the boats, yachts, architecture of the financial and seaport districts, the historical reenactments of the tea party in the channel, and refreshing sea breezes rolling in over the piers. Over the past few years, the Seaport district has seen a huge awakening with the art community with so much renovating going on, and new buildings popping up it seems like an excellent place for such an initiative.

We had so much fun exploring the area, seeing how the public interacted with new seating options offered to them and reading about each bench’s design process. It’s really interesting to see all of the different approaches to the same design criteria, and how each creator tied the bench into it’s surroundings. Some made connection to the local architecture, the waterfront heritage, or spirit of the environment in Fort Point. Of course we had our favorites, but you will just have to go check them all out for yourself and make your own opinions. This really is an amazing exhibit and I encourage everyone to support these art-integrated-into-society shows, and Design Museum Boston.

Check out some photos I snapped along the way, and visit the link here for more info on locations, guided tour dates, and the design process behind these awesome works.

From the exhibits website;


Design brings communities together. Public seating sets the scene for chance encounters, people watching, connecting with nature, or just taking a break.

On September 20, 2012 Design Museum Boston invited individuals and teams from around the world to rethink the humble public bench and design an iconic bench or ‘street seat’ for around the Fort Point Channel. The goal of the challenge was to improve the livability of this burgeoning urban area, using design, while being socially and environmentally conscious.

We received over 170 entries from all over the world — 23 countries in all were represented. Entrants participated by designing sustainable outdoor sidewalk furniture with a focus on reuse, using environmentally-friendly materials, and innovative construction methods. Design teams recorded their process along with their final designs.

Street Seats: Reimagining the Public Bench is the culmination of this incredible challenge. The outdoor exhibition features 17 unique public benches. Enjoy a walk around the Fort Point Channel and see the city in a whole new light.”

street seat 1 street seat 2

street seat 3 street seat 4

street seat 5 street seat 6

street seat 7 street seat 8

street seat 9                http://designmuseumboston.org/exhibits/streetseats/

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Getting back to nature RawFern style

Todays sprout comes as a result of a recent backpacking trip myself and 7 other guys made into the White Mountains. For anyone who has ever been backpacking with 39 lbs of gear to near 5,000 ft summits you understand… For the rest, Let me try to associate the pain to something; Imagine grabbing a 35lb plate at the gym, strapping it on your back, then do the stair climber for 5 hours at a decent pace, Exactly! Now why would anyone want to do such a thing, only to get to the top with the reward being you get to set up camp and act live like a homeless person in the woods for the night? I think everyone on that trip with me would agree that the reward significantly outweighs any amount of pain and struggle to get there. The views from the ridge are breathtaking and there is a sense of accomplishment that you can’t get anywhere else.

So what does this have to do with furniture? Well believe it or not companies do cater to this market of craziness. There are all kinds of chairs, tables and accessories that you can take along with you to the top of a mountain, so that you can camp in luxury. Personally, when I was trying to decide if I should take deodorant or not, because I didn’t want the extra weight and pack volume, furniture was not on my radar of concern. However should you get to do a shorter flatter hike, or have a personal sherpa to carry these, some of these ideas would be incredible to enjoy at the destination.

Ah yes, we’ve all had our run ins with the foldable camp furniture. It really is never that comfy, breaks easier than a dollar store torque wrench, and really isn’t all that light. As opposed to the versions we all see at the big box store, take a look at this, I find it much more attractive, although still not the easiest for tough hikes.


This is called the “Crusader Frankie Folding Camp Chair” I love it because it doesn’t sacrifcie sleek modern design to integrate those bulky collapsable connectors. It almost looks like an alien spider about to attack when all collapsed up, and when open transforms into a elegant stylish side chair.


This camping chair and table contraption is the creation of the Brazilian designer Paulo Henrique Rafael Calloni Storch. Luckily the chair itself folds smaller than his name. I love how once all folded together the leg becomes the carry handle. I have yet to try one for sturdiness, but the concept is well executed, bringing just enough design into an equation which relies most heavily on how easily this folds.


Got a packable air pump, or better yet a friend that’s willing to try and blow this thing up without passing out for a buck? If so, then you can have this comfy beast as your camp fire accommodations. This is quite possibly the most comfy looking inflatable furniture I have seen to date, ensuring that you fall asleep by the fire in style. Careful not to get too close or an hot ember may end your comfort real quick.


What is more fun to sit at while camping than a picnic table? Answer: A picnic table that was easy to carry into the remote location of your choosing! This table and 4 seats folds up into a handy suitcase sized package for transport. Although they make lighter versions out of plastic and aluminum, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the beautiful aesthetic of the wood variation. Ah, the price you pay for design even in the middle of nowhere.

Coleman-Camp-Kitchencamp kitchen 2

Camping used to include everything except the kitchen… Stop right there, because actually you can bring the entire kitchen with you, including the sink. And yes of course to go with todays theme it folds up smaller than any studio apartment in Boston 🙂

Radler-Trail-Camp-Folding-Shoes  Timberland-Radler-Trail-Camp-Folding-Shoes

Definitely not furniture, but you know how being a designer I get that “ooh shiny thing” moment. I couldn’t help but share this, as it fits with the folding camp theme!!! SHOES!

Arguably one of the most important pieces of any extended hike would be the tent. Now I have seen some downright disasters with carrying, setting up, and sleeping in tents. In most cases it comes down to what I have witnessed being; simpler is usually better. The smaller, lighter, simpler you can get when it comes to the tent, the less hassle you will spend on creating your living quarters, and more time relaxing by the fire before bed. Since there are soo many tents on the mainstream market today, I will let you decide on your realistic tent selection. I will however digress, throw in the caveat: “what if you will be the only one sleeping in this tent, and want the lightest simplest design possible”.  The solution: a wearable tent jacket. Believe it or not, more than one concept exists for this. Check them out..

wearable 2                                    wearable camping tent

Maybe you want to integrate camping into your moutain biking addiction, well look no further, this cool tent design used the frame of your bike as the structure to support your tent, saving you weight and volume over packing a regular pole version. Called the Topeak Bikamper, this design really looks like it take functionality to another level for the camper on the go.


Ryan Helser has come up with a great concept called the Respite tent; A hammock for chilling by the fire which turns into the fly of your tent, when you’re ready to sleep inside. It’s simple and elegant. Just the way I like my camping experiences to be!

respite respite 2

Because this blog is sometimes more about avant-garde design rather than function, I am throwing in the next crazy idea. Meant to be a art concept for a photo shoot I find it extremely interesting that clothing can take on the form of furniture or architecture (hmm wearable furniture… Don’t be surprised if you see a sprout on that soon) This is called Dress Tents, by Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao.

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Check out the entire set of images here on Robin Lasser’s website . These really are incredible concepts of art!

Last but not least, Let’s imagine you live in the big city. You want to do some camping without having to drive into the true wilderness, but don’t know where you would set up camp? Since pitching a tent is frowned upon in central park, why not invest in this genius idea; “The car cover tent” Looks like a covered up car in a parking spot and acts as a home (not too far) away from home!  (check local laws before trying this out 🙂