Students' deconstructed sofa and transforming ottoman up for awards

The transforming RowR ottoman
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Article by: David Millett

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Two graduates from Ravensbourne’s BA (Hons) Product Design course have been shortlisted in the Young Furniture Makers 2021 awards. Organised by the Furniture Makers’ Company, the awards are an annual celebration of the most awe-inspiring designs created by university and school students.

Alumni Toby Robson and Wiktor Topczyj were both nominated for their original furniture designs. The Young Furniture Makers has three awards, the Bespoke Award, the Design Award and the School Award.

Toby was shortlisted for his project ‘Uncut’ in the Bespoke category. Uncut is a sofa ‘stripped back to its core components’, designed to create a more meaningful interaction with the user. Toby researched structure and frame of seating and paid particular attention to comfort, examining how users could ‘merge together’ with furniture for maximum comfort.

Toby Robson's sofa design

The result is a unique piece of furniture with a metal frame, foam base, and a flexible ‘noodle’ that can be interacted with and moved by the user to reach that perfect position.

Wiktor created an ottoman that doubles up as a discreet home workout solution. ‘RowR’, nominated in the Design category, folds out to reveal an adjustable incline bench and a rower, in addition to containing built-in storage for workout gear.

The compact design can be rotated to fit multiple spaces. It also has a wheel so that it can be easily moved around the home.

The transforming RowR ottoman

Wiktor told Ravensbourne: “My project was influenced by recent events and how we all had to reinvent our bedrooms into offices, gyms, schools and workshops. I wanted to create something that could easily blend into the home décor, while still being fully functional as training equipment.

“I used cork as a padding – instead of the more commonly seen combo of vinyl and upholstery foam – as it is a sustainable and much more pleasing option.”

BA (Hons) Product Design course leader Nadine Bennett said: “These are two great user-centred projects that disrupt our visions of current home furniture. The teaching team are really proud of these shortlisting and we wish both Toby and Wiktor great success through this opportunity to liaise and network with the Young Furniture Makers community.”

RowR ottoman transformed into rowing machine