Published on May 20th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Help kickstart the largest IVAR hack

Materials: Ikea Ivar Chair

Description: Our Ikea hack could quite possibly be the largest Ikea hack ever! This summer we will be constructing a 1000 square foot pavilion made of 400 Ikea Ivar chairs arrayed and stacked in a 3-dimensional sine wave surface rising above the ground in Freedom Park, Atlanta Georgia. It’s public art, but also usable in that people can actually sit on it to socialize and spend time in the park sitting in the chairs.

The design is very particular to the Ikea Ivar chair because the slightly bent angle of the seatback creates a special texture to the sculpture. And the fact that the Ivar chair is constructed with 2 full prefabricated side pieces allows the transfer of load vertically from chair to chair down to the ground in a monolithic, continuous way; the prefab sides act each as bridges, unlike other chairs where the legs are independent of the other elements. The Ivar is optimized structural unit and texture. The other advantage is also the flatpack design made by Ikea. Transporting 400 chairs would be impossible without the flatpack. And the simple assembly is also what makes this chair the perfect chair to be a construction unit for a public pavilion.

We construct SEAT by additively attaching chairs to each other, using wooden wedges and threaded rods to bridge the gaps between the legs and seatbacks. First a central spine arch is made to which all of the “suspended” chairs are then “hung.” Where the chairs touch the ground they are cast into two concrete pads which anchor the pavilion.

Our idea is that from afar, SEAT will appear like a foreign object in the landscape. Closer yet, SEAT will reveal its unique geometric texture created by the special shape of the Ivar chairs. Upon approach, the audience will recognize the compositional objects, and the dexterity with which the chairs are repurposed for art. The audience will be free to sit upon, inside, and underneath SEAT, exploring it as a personal garden playground.

Conceptually, we’re responding to the idea that chairs really are remarkable pieces of furniture. When you think about the loads they are required to carry, both dynamic and static, in supporting people of all sizes and dimensions, you realize just how strong they actually are. But of course we don’t think of them as structural components, we just think of them as chairs. Their domestic identity overwhelms almost any other interpretation of their use. With SEAT we’re turning that identity inside out using chairs as a whimsical element of structural sculpture.

We’re also trying to drum up some help to realize the project. So I’m sending along our Kickstarter campaign. We know it’s a tough time to help, but it’s also a tough time to build. Maybe some of your enthusiastic readers could lend us a hand. We tried Ikea, but they weren’t interested unfortunately. Anyway, it really could be an amazing hack! Thanks for your time and hope you like it.

See more of the 400 IVAR seater.

~ Brian Brush, Atlanta, GA

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

16 Responses to Help kickstart the largest IVAR hack

  1. Anonymous says:

    I live right by it. It’s coming along great. Looks beautiful :-)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is this the same group that did the thing w/the ladders last year? What happened to those ladders afterwards? And what is the plan for the chairs afterwards?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just had to say, being a tall heavy man, i’ve always considered chairs as structural. And I have always been careful to check the structure was sound before sitting down. Gravity has never been my friend.

    As for this sculpture you are planningt to build… Do you even have the city’s approval/ permission?? I’m sure the city must have some “art” budget they could allocate to your project. Also, be sure to weather proof those chairs….I think the only message you might get across with this thing is ikea advertising and not art

    Finally, just put warning signs all around the sculpture then any idiot who gets hurt climbing won’t have a case. As for parents, they should be more watchful of their kids

  4. Anonymous says:

    I hate to be negative as I really do love art. However, I couldn’t help but think what a terrible waste of resources this is. If the aim was to donate these chairs to people who were in need then I’m sure you would have no trouble finding people to help kickstart the project.

    Still, it’s a really neat structure you have designed there :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    After looking at your drawings, I’m not so sure how well it would transfer the load when you are still using ikea wood and fastners on chair itself. Chairs will have hard time supporting upper ones before it gets braced.

    • Info says:

      Thanks for the thorough review! What isn’t shown in the drawings is a pretty specific bracing procedure and phasing strategy. The central form of the sculpture is actually an arch which will be built first. From there the chairs will be added and braced as they fan out. Bracing is also used as the chairs are “corbeled” up to create the arch.

  6. Jan Gundtofte-Bruun says:

    Well said … all three of you. :-/

  7. Anonymous says:

    “We tried Ikea, but they weren’t interested unfortunately”

    If IKEA isn’t interested in helping to create one of their largest outdoor advertisements ever, then I’m not interested in helping you help IKEA.

    • Info says:

      Well put and understandable. The extent to which we “tried” Ikea was requesting a volume discount on the order from the customer service associate on the phone. That’s it. It wasn’t as if we contacted anyone of authority asking for public support. I agree though, what an amazing advertising opportunity! Oh well…

    • Karen J says:

      Oh my! I’m sure it really would be worth another (more targeted) shot at ‘trying IKEA’ … at the very least, talk to a different CS rep! Writing to the Public Relations department (with a link back to here) may net you far more than just a volume discount. :)

    • Anonymous says:

      Call store PR person.
      Plan B… corporate office.

  8. Anonymous says:

    eh, if you’re stupid enough to climb a sculpture, you’re signing up to deal with the consequences.

    Americans are so litigious… they never just take responsibility for their actions, or accept that accidents happen.

    • Info says:

      Agreed. Still, we’re taking precautions as required to limit the chance for accidents.

    • Badzil says:

      I am not American but think that any kind of sculpture in public space must have reasonable strength to withstand even the most stupid human being climbing it. This sculpture looks like and invitation for children to run on it and I am very suspicious that it would be strong enough.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Love, the idea, it’s beautiful.

    I’m worried though, that it is impractical, people will climb this sculpture, it will all come crashing down, and you and the City will have lawsuits….

    • Info says:

      Thanks for the compliment and the concern. Public art must always deal with climbers unfortunately. The questions then become: must it all be raised off the ground by unclimbable-piloti, be walled off from interaction, designed with the contraints of jungle-gyms, or completely ignore artistic possibilities because of liability? We’ve taken precaution with respect to the concern and will do all we can to discourage climbing. But as the comment below captures, we simply can’t account for everything.

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