With his Data Stool, recent Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Henri Canivez uses generative design to literally personalize a seat. After measuring the intended user’s weight and dimensions, Canivez plugs this information into a custom algorithm to generate the micro-architecture of a stool that is then 3D-printed in two versions: PLA bioplastic and aluminium, nylon and glass.

If we look at seats, however, as essential props for human socializing – made precisely to be used by any number of people – how useful is the Data Stool? By hyper-customizing a seat to follow the contours of one person’s body, are we making it useless to others? Goldilocks had to try a trio of chairs before she found one that was just right, but the rest of us probably would have just made do with Papa Bear’s chair. How long, after breaking and entering, was the fair-haired girl planning on sitting around there anyway?

It may be ideal to tailor a suit, but a made-to-measure stool may be a customization too far

It may be ideal to tailor a suit, to generate a textile design, or to add artistic value by freezing one frame in an algorithmic animation of a chair and printing a unique iteration of an ever-shifting design – as Ammar Eloueini did with CoReFab#71 – but a made-to-measure stool may be a customization too far.

That said, the Data Stool is gratifying in its extremity: it makes abstract personal data visible, palpable, even sittable, an innovation that allows us to see ourselves in our objects. It is not just mine, but a representation of me. As Canivez put it, ‘this is about bringing the user back to the origin of the creative process.’


This piece was first published in Frame 126. You can purchase a copy of the magazine here.