Dezeen Showroom: London-based Fuzl Studio has developed a series of flat-pack, birch plywood furniture, that can be assembled completely without tools or screws and is instead held together by a system of metal clips.
The Originals range includes a chair, stool, bench and three tables, which rely on heavy-duty steel spring clips from the commercial packaging industry as their only fixing.
But in this case, they allow furniture to be quickly assembled, disassembled and repaired by clipping on replacement pieces.
The collection’s slatted chair uses six clips in total – one to fix each leg to the frame and one on either side of the backrest.
Meanwhile, the Rotable has a Z-shaped base that can be flipped to turn it from a coffee table into a desk and secured in place using four clips.
According to Fuzl Studio founder Oliver Theobald, the aim of the range is to move flat-pack furniture away from its current associations with being “cheap, undesirable, short-term and throw-away”.
“If done right, I think flat-pack somehow sparks and initiates your connection with a thing from the get-go, simply by the making of it,” he told Dezeen.
“Contemporary flat-pack furniture sadly rarely becomes cherished because the assembly process is hard and bamboozling for most, then on top of that, it does not wear its bruises well.”
“In the very existence of a platform that lets you hire people to put up your furniture, it’s clear that something has gone very wrong with flat-pack,” he continued.
By using the clipping system the studio hopes to facilitate a more convenient assembly process and prevent premature obsolescence by creating a more durable final piece that is able to stand the test of time.
“The QIK Clip is made to cope with un-holy levels of industrial abuse, they need to withstand forklift trucks, tonnes of dynamic forces and horrible drop tests. So we can be very, very sure of the strength of the fixing,” said Theobald.
“Because the clips are under spring tension, even if you throw a chair down the stairs and you stress the joint, the clip will take up the stress-compression in the wood. This means that your chair or table will remain stable and sturdy without the need to tighten it up or replace the dowels or re-glue them.”
By extending the lifecycle of the products, Theobald ultimately hopes to mitigate their environmental impact.
That’s also why he sources the birch plywood from sustainably managed forests in Europe as well as packaging the final pieces not in polystyrene foam but in recycled cardboard that is folded like origami.
The colours, which range from burnt orange to olive green and neutral shades of black and cream, are derived from linseed oil that is enriched with pigments and consequently free of the volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are often found in traditional paint finishes.
This creates a semi-transparent finish that plays up the wood’s natural grain and preserves its tactility.
Rather than being hidden, the QIK Clips are prominently displayed and contrasted with the furniture’s wooden frame to create a distinct, industrial appeal.
“In particular, the seats in the Originals range wear the clips on their breasts, really in your face,” said Theobald.
“Consequently our earlier pieces have a very divisive effect – Marmitey perhaps. It does make our furniture stand out and splits opinion but happily, it generates really strong feelings either way.”
Flat-pack veteran IKEA has previously developed a new type of joint, known as a wedge dowel, that allows furniture to snap together “like a jigsaw puzzle”. But several years on, many of its pieces still require nuts, bolts and Allen keys to put together.
Spanish designers Maria Roca and Erika Biarnes took a different approach and developed a clip-on leg module that allows almost any flat surface to be turned into furniture.
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