The 'Painful' solid wood seat designed by Sean Zhang, a Rhode Island Institute of Design student, in beech and walnut finished in wax and oil, doesn’t pain those seated in it. The title refers to a traditional Ming Dynasty chair, which featured a similar design.
The inspiration behind the chair, acupuncture, is shown in the form of 800 hammered wooden nails that make up the seat of the chair. There was a lot of detail work: After crafting the components, Zhang hand shaped and polished the tips of the nails on a Dremel 300. He also hand finished it in wax and oil.
Zhang, a design student at the Rhode Island School of Design, built the chair using a drill press, shaper, router, rotary cutter, and a belt sander at the school.
The prototype was built using beech and walnut, and polished and finished using wax and drying oil.
To enable the chair to have better bearing capacity, all of the wooden needles do not penetrate the surface of the chair directly, but rather a third of an inch into both the upper and lower surfaces of the chair, giving the illusion of full penetration.
“Through this design, I would like to demonstrate that our traditional designs and manufacturing techniques have been gradually lost,” said Zhang. “These traditional designs and skills are the essence of human civilization.”
“I hope the visual form also translates to show the painstaking work that goes into thoughtful craftsmanship,” Zhang continued. “Hopefully it can veer people's attention toward the beauty of traditional culture and craftsmanship.”