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In designing this chair, I wanted the end result to be one which you would not think twice about carrying to the beach. It is like the surfing culture, where there is an adrenaline rush in carrying a “ cool “ object under  your arm, ready to conquer the waves. It is all about the possibility, the excitement, the unknown.

With the BEACH THINGY ©  2003 you simply push it into the sand, until there is resistance, then you place your foot into the foot opening, pushing down with the addition of your bodys’ weight until the bottom of the chair back rests on the sand surface. The prongs penetrate into the sand far enough to be extremely stable, and because the chair is made of plastic, it has the right amount of flex to it when you sit back, making it extremely comfortable. This chair is not about creating a lounge chair, but simply to create a lightweight, stackable, durable chair which is synonymous with beach activity, fun.

For me, the most crucial stage of the design process is not just the ability to observe but more importantly interpret, and it also helps to be dyxlectic. The inverse is a good starting point. If we have consistently observed our surroundings, our subconscious has a vast amount of stored information, which it seems to release when it feels we need some stimulation. I remember when I was in Martinique sketching ideas for my collection of tables for Knoll. Throughout my sketches it was evident that I was inspired from nature, particularly the spines of the black sea urchin and the mangrove roots. It was particularly interesting that when tide went out, nature exposed the mangrove roots, just time enough to inspire me. It was up to me to interpret the seemingly complex intertwining of the root system. It was beautiful how the arched roots carried the weight above it, while allowing movement throughout its lower supports. I do not believe in the expressions “ its all about timing” , “chance” or “ in the right place at the right time”, because we are always in the right place at the right time, it is simply how we observe and interpret what is right in front of us at any particular moment in time. Even the most minute thing can be discovered.

On May 10, 2003 I went to one of my favorite places, a restaurant on the beach in Monterosso Italy. I would often take the train in the early morning from Milan, arrive, have a seafood soup, 1/2 bottle of white wine, and eventually  take my walk along the mountain side to Vernazza. This particular day I was sitting, having a wonderful seafood soup and just after I moved beyond the exotic vapors of the soup, I noticed near a trash container there was a broken chair. This chair was not just laying in a pile of scattered broken limbs, but the seat was still connected to the two front legs, although a little damaged as if someone stood towards the back of the chair and it collapsed. Resting vertically against a trash container was the back of the chair still connected structurally to the two back legs. I looked at it and immediately at the beach, where I noticed an adolescent propping himself up with his bent arms behind him, in a very awkward, uncomfortable position. I snickered with excitement, seeing this backrest with two legs penetrating the sand offering a back rest. I did not have my camera on this particular day, unfortunately because I usually document my observations and interpretations, that exact moment they occur. My heart was beating with excitement, definately a combination of all elements: the environment, the soup, having finished half  of the 1/2 bottle of wonderful wine, and of course a new adrenaline rush of an idea. I decided to simply stare at the chair back with its two exposed legs, leaning vertically with just enough sexy posture as to invite me not just in a visual conversation ( which I was definitely engaged in by now ) but a physical conversation, inviting my curiosity to come over and touch, experience this seemingly broken, discarded artifact of society. This temptress was not ordinary street trash, she leaned with enough confidence to catch my attention in the daylights brightness. For most the sun was a global spotlight, but at this particular moment, the sun seemed to concentrate solely on this particular discarded artifact. There is someone or something for everyone, and in this case, both caught my attention. This  temptress was trying its hardest to interrupt the wonderful vapors and taste of my  anticipated soup, which I have travelled many hours to enjoy. I did not give into the temptress, well not immediately. I was perhaps playing hard to get in this particular courtship. Immediately after finishing my soup and wine, I went over and tossed the two legged temptress into the trash container.
My act was simply to minimize the chance that other eyes may think the same as I.  In hind sight, I wish I would have kept it, because that was “ the”  inspiration.

I had thought of this idea over the following months and told myself  if it reoccurs, then it is prompting me to attend to it. When I was developing a series of plywood chairs, from October 7 - 9, this idea of a backrest with two legs, immerged once again.  It was on October 7, 2003 that I sketched an image on the back of a train ticket from Como to Milan. It was that moment I realized I needed to pursue this idea. 

Three years later, five series of prototypes, and a lot of persistence, I have a finished product.

I feel that in over  twenty years of designing products, this product is a culmination of not just being clever, and functional, but it has a playful, whimsical quality, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. There is a nice balance between both the serious side of something and its ( necessary ) playful counterpart.

In naming this product, I did not want a pretentious, esoteric name, but simply a name which reflected the curious, precise but abstract quality of this product. In fact in my own words, when I design “ it is clear, not to be clear.” I wanted to engage curiosity. It is the not so obvious aspect, while giving a hint to what it may be, by supplying where it is used. With a little bit of imagination the viewer will find a pleasant surprise when understanding that it is a beach chair.

In creating the type for product name, I developed “ characters “ which seem to represent different personalities, each “ character “ interacting with each other in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. They all appear to be in conversation with one another, definitely interacting in each others presence.

Utilizing gas assisted injection molding has allowed me to design a substantially thick diameter structural framework “ rail “ which ties together all elements of this chair. The tapered legs allow for the sand to be penetrated to the most critical point, the depth which is wet, and densely compacted. The top six inches or so of sand has no holding strength. The structural rail also adds to the comfort when carrying the chair at any point of contact, although the handle located at the top is recommended. The insertion process is quite simple: a ) simply grip the chair with two hands and apply downward pressure, until feeling resistance ( which is usually when the bottom horizontal structural support of the backrest is a few inches from touching the sand, b ) then simply insert your foot through the bottom foot hole and apply more insertion pressure by using your body weight, doing so is critical to the chairs holding strength because by applying pressure with your added body weight the two legs will penetrate to the wet, densely compacted depth of the sand.

The addition of 20% reinforcing fiber into the polypropylene plastic, allows for even more structural strength.

Short Version
Beach Thingy