Two years ago, Boris Berlin and Poul Christiansen, the duo behind the Danish firm Komplot, were asked by a Swedish prison to design a chair that was light, comfortable, stackable, noise-less, cavity-free, and unable to be used as a weapon. Though they never formally accepted the challenge, the problem embedded itself in their minds until a solution began to take shape. Berlin traces one inspiration to summer-home furnishings draped in heavy cloth and left to hibernate for the winter. “It’s a mysterious situation,” says the designer, who covers pieces in his own home when he tires of looking at them, “like how it can be more intriguing to see someone clothed than naked.”
The designers found they could achieve a similar enigmatic effect with PET felt, a material made from recycled plastic bottles and commonly used in the automotive industry for such things as trunk shelving. Thermopressed into shape, PET felt retains its stiffness without the use of glues, resins, or fasteners. In 2006, the designers began to seriously contemplate creating the first example of seating with “no body”—a frameless chair made from a single piece of rigid upholstery that could be efficiently stamped into shape.
Working with the innovative Danish furniture manufacturer Hay, Komplot determined that 40-millimeter-thick PET felt, thermopressed down to 10 millimeters on custom-built equipment, would hold its form, and the Nobody chair was born. Washable and indoor/outdoor-friendly, with a simple, timeless silhouette, the chair is primed for a long life. Should its owners cast it out, however—a fate the designers hope it will never suffer—the Nobody chair is also 100 percent recyclable.
Because its upholstery serves as the seat’s load-bearing element, Nobody is rigid, yet that hardness has a soft hand. “When you look closely, you realize that this chair is difficult to understand,” says Berlin, “but we didn’t want to pronounce that loudly. It’s a quiet chair.” In more ways than one: Though the chair boasts the noise-reduction properties of the original brief, Berlin admits that it’s more likely to end up inside bars than behind them. — Meaghan O’Neill