Frank O. GEHRY (designer)<br />
 VITRA, Weil am Rhein (manufacturer)<br/>
<em>Wiggle side chair</em> 1972 {designed}; 2001 {manufactured} <!-- (view 1) --><br />

cardboard, composition board<br />
87.0 x 36.0 x 62.0 cm<br />
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br />
Presented through the NGV Foundation by Rae Rothfield, Fellow, 2003<br />
2003.492<br />
© Frank Gehry

Frank O. Gehry is an internationally acclaimed architect and designer. His Wiggle side-chair is part of the Easy Edges furniture series he designed in 1972.

The 14 pieces of furniture that comprise the series are all constructed from corrugated cardboard.

While cardboard is not an obvious choice for furniture design, layering and gluing corrugated card in alternate directions provided Gehry with a remarkably strong and durable material that also has pleasing sculptural and sensory qualities. In the Wiggle side-chair these qualities are enhanced by the fluid lines and form of the chair’s design.  With use, the surface texture of the cardboard actually becomes soft and suede-like.

The 1960s and 1970s were a period of great experimentation and innovation with materials and form in design. Gehry originally conceived the Easy Edge series as a range of low-cost furniture, however, it was ‘so immediately successful that Gehry withdrew them from production after just three months, fearing his success as a furniture designer would overshadow his reputation as an architect’ (Dunsmore 2006, p. 26).

A few of the pieces from the series, including the Wiggle side-chair, are now being produced under licence by the German design firm Vitra.

Classroom discussion:

  • Would you buy a chair made from cardboard? Has the Wiggle side-chair influenced your opinion? Explain.
  • The Wiggle side-chair was designed nearly 40 years ago. Is this immediately apparent when you look at the chair? Explain why.
  • Suggest why Gehry may have allowed the Wiggle side-chair and other pieces in the series to be produced again.
  • The Wiggle side-chair was originally conceived as a low-cost design. Today it is produced by a prestigious design and manufacturing company. What do you think about this? What makes you think this?
  • Imagine you have been given a Wiggle side-chair. Design the room you would like to keep it in, thinking carefully about other pieces of furniture that will fit with this chair.
  • Research buildings by Gehry, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

A. Dunsmore, 20th Century Chairs, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 2006.