Dense is a deep dive into wood densification as a material transforming technology that can impact the way we understand the material attributes of wood from a design perspective.
Wood densification is a relatively unknown technique with great promise but very narrow applications as of today. With this great promise in mind, I set out to understand it with the ultimate goal of designing a chair that could display the potential of densified wood.

project has been published on:
Plastification Platform, used to soften wood and avoid fracture under pressure.
Plastification Platform, used to soften wood and avoid fracture under pressure.
Densification Platform, used to compress wood and stabilize through heat.
Densification Platform, used to compress wood and stabilize through heat.
Compression through a manually operated 10T hydraulic bottle jack.
Compression through a manually operated 10T hydraulic bottle jack.
The design challenge began much earlier than the chair itself, as densified wood is not commercially available, a system to produce it had to be developed. Through research into the conditions and parameters necessary to densify wood two platforms were designed and built to densify 2x2 dimensional lumber of sufficient length to become a chair leg. 
Silicone heating pads used to control and maintain water tank temperature.
Silicone heating pads used to control and maintain water tank temperature.
Compressed 2x2, reduced to a 20mm height.
Compressed 2x2, reduced to a 20mm height.
Custom made silicone heating pads fitted into steel profile.
Custom made silicone heating pads fitted into steel profile.
Densification Platform assembly.
Densification Platform assembly.
With this brand-new material in hand, I aimed to understand it through various jigs, tests and observation, as well as mechanical tests to quantify the newly found strength of the material.
Wood densification proved capable of taking radiata pine from a low value disposable soft wood to a greatly improved material, fit for furniture design applications with a great strength to weight ratio and an evolved semiotic value.
Tests were performed to obtain MOE and MOR of different density profiles.
Tests were performed to obtain MOE and MOR of different density profiles.
3 point bending test.
3 point bending test.
Slope Adhesion Test, performed to validate seatrest assembly.
Slope Adhesion Test, performed to validate seatrest assembly.
Swelling Lock Test, performed to measure swelling lock within a cylinder.
Swelling Lock Test, performed to measure swelling lock within a cylinder.
Finish Test, performed to measure deformation due to finish humidity.
Finish Test, performed to measure deformation due to finish humidity.
D01 chair
A chair was chosen to implement densified wood as it holds an inescapable allure and history as a design object and is simultaneously a great structural challenge, thus the D01 chair was conceptualized.
The design objective for the chair was to exhibit its material strength through lightness and an impossible appearance— such that one would think the chair is incapable of enduring stress, whilst remaining restrained in shape to manifest as the drawing of a chair— in its purest form.
D01 chair next to 1:3 scale model.
D01 chair next to 1:3 scale model.
Backrest sits on a subtle 8° bevel to provide a proper joint surface and ergonomic dimensions.
Backrest sits on a subtle 8° bevel to provide a proper joint surface and ergonomic dimensions.
Orthogonal language is carefully transgressed to harmonically incorporate the crossbar into the backrest posts.
Orthogonal language is carefully transgressed to harmonically incorporate the crossbar into the backrest posts.
D01 is composed of 16x16mm elements which bite into each other through subtle 4mm incisions.
D01 is composed of 16x16mm elements which bite into each other through subtle 4mm incisions.
A square 16x16 mm section was determined for its visual slenderness and sufficient strength, 16 elements were arranged such to support a proper ergonomic and proven seating position whilst maintaining mathematical proportion and harmony as every distance corresponds to a multiple of 4.
D01’s value lies in its structure and composition thus any single standout feature or fine detail was to be avoided to not disrupt the delicate poise granted by the orthogonal configuration of its elements.
The D01 chair is likely the first densified wood chair in the world, and proves wood capable of being a sustainable, highly engineered material fit for product design applications in novel magnitudes.
Take a look at the complete 150 page project memoir here.
D01 Chair visualized next to design icons. [left to right] Panton Chair, Whishbone Chair, 699 Superleggera Chair, Standard Chair.
D01 Chair visualized next to design icons. [left to right] Panton Chair, Whishbone Chair, 699 Superleggera Chair, Standard Chair.