Stephen Philips (ARUP) was sure that he wanted to design an easy to use, compact and versatile seating and he couldn’t do better. The result has been HANDY Stool, manufactured by SELLEX, a multifunctional stool that fits perfectly in every type of facility and has different applications, because it can be used as seating or as auxiliary table. Philips details how the whole creation process was developed.
What inspired you to create HANDY?
In our fast moving, design and material conscious world, there is a growing need for user friendly, compact and versatile seating products.
For HANDY, I wanted to create a refined, sculptural shape, with a lightweight and dynamic feel and to use a single material for the structure. As an industrial designer working at Arup, I am privileged to work with some of the most talented engineers around. We used advanced structural modelling tools to help shape and optimise HANDY's structure, shape and materials. Above all, I wanted HANDY to be a friendly product, one that's easy for people to use in a range of environments. It has worked well and we now use HANDY in our Arup London, Sydney, Brisbane and Singapore offices.
How was the creative process?
The creative process started by talking to people, the potential users of HANDY which included our facilities management teams at Arup as well as a range of other people to understand their ‘wish-list' and develop the brief for HANDY. From there, I sketched out some ideas on paper, refined them and then moved into 3D modelling to refine the shape and work out the details such as glides size and the edge shape of the seat Pad.
I could also refine the geometry to ensure it was easy to pick up and stack. We then moved to the technical stage. My colleague at Arup, structural engineer Mattia Bernardi carried out a dynamic structural analysis to determine how the shape would perform when people sit on and move within the seat. This gave us and SELLEX 100% confidence that the materials and shape were optimised before the tooling process. Finally, we worked on a new range of contemporary colour finishes. Beñat, Miguel, Raúl and I reviewed a set of prototypes to test and make some final adjustments.
Stephen Philips HANDY Stool Designer.
Which function fills? (Tell us the different applications that Handy has and in what different places do you think the stool could be placed)
HANDY is a simple, compact yet technically sophisticated product. It is super-versatile and therefore perfect for smart café's, in an agile office for quick, ad-hoc meetings, either at the desk or break-out spaces. It works well in hotels, shops or the home. Because it stacks, it works well for flexible multi-purpose spaces. For instance, a space that may be a coffee shop in the morning, a lecture/conference area in the afternoon and a stand up entertainment space in the evening.
Explain us the choice of materials and measures. Why them?
The stool is manufactured in polypropylene. We have intentionally used this valuable material in a precious way, creating a sculptural, functional product of value that is intended to be used and cherished for a long time. The glides, which are intentionally wide to spread the load and protect the floor are a different slightly material, polyethylene. These two components are mechanically fitted together as opposed to co-moulded to ensure both materials can be separated, recycled or reused at end of life. We have also developed a version that re-uses recycled polypropylene. The seat pad allows people to customise HANDY in a range of colours and fabrics of their choice and to provide extra seat comfort. The oak seat option complements interiors, buildings and accessories with timber features. We chose a contemporary range of colours for HANDY, so people can choose a colour to suit their environment. HANDY's seat height is intended to fit most of the world's population. Without the seat Pad, HANDY works as either a small table or stool.
What has Handy that other stools don't have?
It's a unique seat shape that stacks and offers the ability to play with the colour and material of stool and seat pad. Also, you can tuck your bag underneath HANDY, keeping your possessions safe and your space tidy.
Why did you choose SELLEX to do the product development?
The opportunity to work with SELLEX was a really inspiring. I have admired their refined products, many designed by Lievore, Altherr and Molina for a long time. Products that include the renowned AERO Bench. It's one of the most beautiful and technically advanced seats for airports and stations around and a product that captures the optimism of the modern age. The opportunity to design a product that complements AERO and the rest of the product range whilst taking things in a slightly different direction was a fantastic opportunity and a real challenge.
What do you like most of working with SELLEX?
It has been a real privilege to work with Sellex and I really enjoyed the whole process. I met Beñat Muñoz in London several years ago and we met regularly to develop the design and I think this has been a key ingredient to its success. His feedback and enthusiasm was key to its development, as has the considerable effort and commitment from the SELLEX technical and management team. I am really proud of HANDY and must congratulate SELLEX on the end result. I hope people enjoy using it as much as I do.