privacy has never felt or looked so good, thanks to the updated pod chair by de vorm. a decade on from its first release, the chair – designed by benjamin hubert – is now available in 11 colors. this customizability enables new perspectives for the icon, in appearance and function. it can blend into lounges or be a stand out piece within open-plan offices, where its flexibility is greatly needed as we understand how workspaces will look post-pandemic.
reintroducing the icon in the nine new colors, de vorm’s founder and CEO jeroen ter hoeven talks technical – exploring their unique material and process, design updates, and an insight into the original collaboration with hubert – in an interview with designboom.
all images courtesy of de vorm
first launched in 2011, the pod chair by de vorm was the brand’s first chair made from PET Felt. it took many years of trial, research and development to achieve its final design, which introduced a unique pressing technique for manufacturing. the result, to this day, remains the biggest shape ever made in this material. it takes up to 600 PET bottles to produce each chair.
‘when we first met, benjamin had only recently graduated and he was exhibiting as part of a design talent show in germany. we collaborated on a few smaller projects before we created the pod chair. even back then, he had the same focus on material and process, so it was a natural fit between him and de vorm. we were both really hungry to create something new,’ states jeroen ter hoeven.
‘we both admired the typology of wingback chairs – the protection they offered to the sitter – but we didn’t want to make it in a classical way, which would have been with a lot of board, form and upholstery. their heaviness were not suitable for export, time exhausting to produce, and also expensive. to start, benjamin and I made a list of all the negatives about private wingback chairs, and looked for the ways to solve them,’ adds the CEO. ‘we started by exploring the possibilities of PET Felt for the future pod chair. this technology allowed us to develop a unique 3D pressing method to make a shell in one piece. this meant it was great for exporting as the shells can be transported separately from the frame. the final product checked all the boxes and righted all the wrongs.‘
‘the chair was originally only available in two of our 11 PET Felt colors. because the pod is the biggest shape ever produced in the material, we had to overcome a lot of challenges in order to introduce it in the new colors. this had never been achieved before. in fact, the manufacturing technique made it easier to process gray PET, due to the composition. in order to develop the other colors, we had to go back to the material and find the right mix and technique to make the other nine hues,’ explains jeroen.
the pod chair is now available in all 11 of de vorm’s PET Felt colors. the result enables the design to fit the users’ needs, whether a statement piece in pink or yellow, or a background furnishing in blue, gray or brown. it creates new perspectives. on top of this, the chair’s frame can be tailored in hundreds of PAL colors and kvadrat fabrics can be used for the upholstery. the update brings the icon in line with the ultra-flexibility of de vorm’s other products, which can be fully customized to the client and project.
‘flexibility has always been one of the most important aspects of our success. the shell of the pod can be in brown or gray, or it can now be a statement piece in yellow or pink. the same chair can have a completely different function in a different color,’ confirms the CEO.
‘the design itself is the same,’ remarks jeroen. ‘it is still a privacy chair with the ‘room inside a room’ concept. we were so happy with the original design that we never changed it, apart from the colors now. the original checked all our boxes. we have also followed the same design process for all our future products. the pet felt technology was the real invention – it told us a lot about how we wanted to work in the future.’
the large, comforting shell is as generous in size as it is sustainable. the soft felt structure is padded further with cushioning on the seat and back. when sat in, the user feels as if inside their own room. noise from the surrounding environment is absorbed into the felt, whilst conversations inside won’t leave the pod. it offers a highly personal, quiet space – a perfect feature for breakout areas, waiting rooms and big open-plan offices.
‘we always start with the material and process, and only then move on to design. most brands start the other way around; they imagine a design and then figure out how to make that design. in that way, there are always compromises on price, material or the design itself. we don’t need to compromise,‘ concludes jeroen ter hoeven, de vorm founder and CEO. he was one of the first to see – and realize – the full potential of PET Felt. it enables the dutch brand to manufacture furniture that fits every user need, from aesthetics through to function and space. now, available in all 11 colors, the pod chair by de vorm returns to the forefront of their sustainable, affordable and flexible product offering.
brand: de vorm
product: pod chair
designer: benjamin hubert