Designing for a Living World: Abbott Miller
Architecture you can sit on has intrigued designers and consumers in the last century—the Eames Chair and Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair are still instantly recognizable as icons of mid-century design. Abbott Miller’s chairs for “Design for a Living World,” made from sustainably sourced Bolivian wood, follow mid-century aesthetic traditions, but deliver them in an entirely new way.
A partner in the global design firm Pentagram, Miller, a native Midwesterner, traveled to the industrial city Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for “Design for a Living World.” Miller says that the furniture production in Santa Cruz was “both very traditional and very cutting-edge,” but as a designer, there wasn’t a vernacular of Bolivian furniture that he could respond to. So, he focused on the process and the traditions of woodworking that showed in the factories he visited there.
In Santa Cruz, making furniture using a CNC wood router delivers the most efficient way of producing objects for a broad market. (A CNC router automatically cuts parts out of flat wood, which can then be assembled). Miller’s plywood chairs are built without glue or nails, and even the casual observer can see how it might be easily taken apart and reassembled. The CNC router let Miller produce three chairs from a single sheet of plywood; the pieces can be shipped flat and assembled using nothing more than a rubber mallet.