Perplex is a collection of 4 furniture pieces that are the result of a 2 year exploration of a new manufacturing process – a process that treats the surface of any metal allowing it to bond to any other material enabling new capabilities. This process challenged and inspired Fig40 to rethink structure and the way we use materials. Perplex is Fig40’s first interpretation of what can be achieved.
Fig40 is an Industrial Design firm based in Toronto and partnered with GRIP Metal, a manufacturer also based in Toronto, to develop a collection of furniture pieces centred on using this new manufacturing methodology.
GRIP Metal, at the bench’s core, is a consistently shaped field of hooks formed onto ultra-thin gauge metal forms. Like a metallic Velcro, it can be pressed, moulded, or cast to create a bond that is mechanical and continuous, strengthening hundreds of times per inch.
GRIP Metal can also reduce the energy required in product systems: reducing the weight of products results in more efficient construction and transport, and the lack of adhesives makes it easier to separate and recycle materials at the end of a product’s life-cycle.
Perplex includes a 14’ concrete bench, a stool, shelving unit and concrete table.
The bench is a hollow composite structure that casts ductal (a high performance concrete) around a steel box of GRIP Metal. The relationship between the concrete and the GRIP Metal gives the concrete tensile strength, something it is traditionally not good at. This then enables a huge span with a structure only 3 1/2” thick.
The stool is a steel tube frame supporting a thin composite seat made from 2 layers of GRIP Metal aluminum sandwiching a 6mm thick piece of polypropylene. The combination of these materials creates a very strong structure, but also one that is compliant, a functional benefit on the seat of a chair.
The table uses GRIP Metal in 2 ways. This first is in the concrete top. This 3/4” thick top of traditional concrete is possible due to the GRIP Metal plates in the centre of the part. This approach was discovered through early trials on the bench, and has been refined for use here. The second use is in the legs. By creating a 3 ply construction of wood sandwiching GRIP Metal, the GRIP Metal adds stiffness to the leg and allows them to be made hollow to allow for cables to pass through. The cable in this case powers a wireless charging device for phones that is embedded in the tray punctuating the top of the table.
The shelves are a very simple exploration of long thin spans. Using GRIP Metal as a tension member on the underside of a surface introduces significant strength to an otherwise flexible part. These shelves are 3/4”thk and enable a span of 8’.
This collection demonstrates Fig40’s passion for exploring innovative tools and new technologies in order to create compelling and relevant objects.
Photos: Lisa Petrole