Furniture maker Alexander White says his Monroe Chair armchair, made of MDF, was inspired by the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe's blowing skirt in scene in the Bill Wilder's 1955 movie, "The Seven Year Itch." It exploits the capabilities of a CNC router for nesting repeated cuts from a panel.

"The Monroe Chair is an attempt to drastically simplify the manufacturing process involved in making an armchair," says White. "It exploits the potential of CNC technologies to repeatedly cut out a flat element from MDF; these elements are then splayed around a central axis to shape a complexly curved armchair. The back leg gradually morphs into the backrest and the armrest into the front leg, creating a distinct aesthetic entirely defined by the simplicity of the manufacturing process."


The project started in february 2011 Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK and finished in time for an Exhibition at the Candid Art Galleries in Isllington, London. October 2011.


CNC router, 9mm MDF. All components being identical, they can be economically laid out on a sheet of 8by4 MDF producing minimal waste. After being cut out each component is fed onto a metal pole that runs through the width of the chair, then splayed and fixed in place in order to achieve the desired aesthetic and comfort. Then the whole chair is primed and lacquered.


80cm x 100cm x 75cm


Marilyn was always in the back of my mind when designing this chair but my main aim was to produce a chair made from one component. I started with a fairly simple idea that I sketched and play around with it in my sketchbook until I was convinced that it's is worth developing. I then took the basic drawn shape to the computer and started producing more refined shapes for the main component. Several models then followed perfecting the aesthetics and apparent comfort of the chair. It's only once a full size prototype was made that I could fully understand the boundaries and balances between it’s style and comfort and therefore decide on final detailing.


Trying to get the correct shape for the main component was a challenge. As the repeated component for this design performs many tasks; the front end of it being both the armrest and the front leg and the back end of it being the back rest and the back leg. This meant a balance between the functions of the component had to be found. Its shape had to be just right.

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