Showroom: Math Meets Art

Anodized aluminum and high-tech machining methods allow Alexander Purcell Rodrigues to create a simple, elegant chair. Courtesy Alexander Purcell Rodrigues

Anodized aluminum and high-tech machining methods allow Alexander Purcell Rodrigues to create a simple, elegant chair. Courtesy Alexander Purcell Rodrigues

These days, it seems as if 3D printing gets all the love. Hardly a day goes by without news of another development in the technique or a new product born from the process. It’s a revolutionary option—especially now as the devices becomes more accessible both in terms of price and software. But. Innovation in process and design is still alive and well in some more traditional areas.

A case in point is the new Cartesian chair from Alexander Purcell Rodrigues. The Los Angeles–based designer first made his name with the witty sake bomb and has expanded on that success with a series of ambitious and award-winning designs. His latest, the first entry in his Cartesian Collection, is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and is “designed to have as little material as possible,” explains Purcell Rodrigues. “It really is about the pure simplicity of the chair—we took it down to the most minimal form we could, which, with aluminum, you can achieve.”

It couldn’t have been done without the manufacturing know-how of Neal Feay, the Santa Barbara firm on the forefront of aluminum-fabrication technology for decades. For a piece of this type, says Purcell Rodrigues, “You need a substantial shop to pull it off. The chair was essentially designed because we had those capacities to build with.” Taking advantage of the specialized equipment at his disposal, Purcell Rodrigues was able to experiment and explore with the material and form, particularly on the textured elements. “To do it out of large piece of aluminum would be expensive and wasteful,” he says.

The chair (it takes it name from the Cartesian coordinate system that forms the basis of CAD software—the program ultimately responsible for the creation of the chair’s ornamentation) is offered in a range of anodize colors and can be ordered with or without ornamentation. For those wanting to mix the machine-made with the organic, the chair will also be available with a solid wood leg in two choices: walnut or white oak.

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