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The first qualification for Nicholas Gardner was a diploma in arts and furniture design at RMIT in Melbourne. He started making furniture and sculpture as commissions, as well as doing some of his own work, and came to the RCA in order to get a more conceptual grasp of design. He has just completed his first year, and is particularly interested in work where he wraps folded metal to create volume.

Horan started his career with a certificate in mechanical engineering, followed by an an art foundation course in Coventry and then a BA in transport design. He has just completed his first year at the RCA and is interested in having the freedom to follow a range of interests, including graphic, product and furniture design. He would like to work internationally as a freelance designer.

The design was inspired by a work by the sculptor Phyllida Barlow, in which she uses a single screw to fix a piece of MDF and create volume. Horan and Gardner’s design also wraps a thin material to
create not just volume but also a surprising amount of strength. Pieces of ply just 1.5mm thick are rolled up to create the legs of a 2m-long bench in solid tulipwood. The legs fit in to tulipwood base rings, and to a circular groove in the underside of the bench. When the bench is to be carried, the 'legs' unroll to become flat, and the base rings slot in to another set of grooves in the underside of the bench. The whole assembly is held together with cords, which when the bench is assembled join the rings to hooks on the underneath of the flat seat. One person can carry the disassembled structure. Horan and Gardner chose tulipwood for its high strength and light weight. It is also a material that can easily take stains or be painted.

Initially Horan and Gardner designed the bench with aluminium rings for the feet, but switched to timber because of its much lower environmental footprint. The surface of the bench will be durable, as will the feet. If the plywood for the legs requires more frequent replacement, it will be compensated for by the fact that it is so light in weight. Overall, this is a solid solution created with great economy of materials, and can pack away to a minimal volume for transport.
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