William Warren

London based product and furniture designer

CNC windsor

Following lots of interesting projects relating to traditional English Windsor chairs, I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I tried to make a windsor using more up to date materials.

The windsor chair is not a ‘designed’ piece of furniture. Rather it is an evolved set of rules and solutions that have grown from the raw materials of green timber (freshly cut), simple hand tools and traditional craft techniques and the demanding requirements of strength and comfort. The traditions of the English Windsor Chair are around three hundred years old and the slow evolution of the typology by illiterate makers or ‘Bodgers’, working in the woods has created a set of practical solutions that give us a strong, stable, comfortable and simply made (and therefor cheep to buy) seat.

Unlike more glamorous pieces of high end historical furniture the Windsor chair is immune to the changes of fashion. It is an everyday seat for the common man. What is called ‘Country’ furniture. There is hardly any detail on a Windsor chair that is purely decorative and nothing unnecessary. The few decorative features that they have can often be traced back to a practical root and always result from processes already being used.

The CNC windsor I have made here, uses the basic layout and rules of a standard ‘Chairmakers chair’. That is, to have a bent back bow that joins into a bent armrest supported by spindles of different thicknesses. The seat is a solid piece of timber with the legs morticed into it, true of all Windsors. There is also an under-frame that links the legs together, featuring a bentwood bow to allow the legs to sit comfortably under the seat. Despite my efforts to stick to the rule of the Windsor, the chair has ended looking rather Geigeresque. This is mostly because the 3 axis CNC machine is unable to generate angled joints and the material/process combination requires a new solution to joining round sections to other round sections.

The components for three chairs can all be cut on a CNC machine from a single board of 30mm plywood. It is proposed that a buyer would be responsible for assembly and finishing of the product in order to maintain the traditional relationship between the Windsor chair and the craft of it’s assembly.

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