Photograph: Adobe Stock


Consider a chair for space

 Readings / 
2022/04/30 Text by Yuichiro Tani, designer
 Readings / 
2022/04/30 Text by Yuichiro Tani, designer

The first theme to be tackled in this "Touch of the Space" project is the chair.
The chair is one of the most popular products on earth.
This theme is an attempt to understand the universe a little better through the design of a "chair for space," which is surely different from its form on Earth.

What we want to do here at “Touch of the Space”.

Let me begin by telling you about this site.
This site, “Touch of the Universe,” is run by a group of designers, engineers, scientists, and others with different professions.

Our goal is to give you a glimpse of the universe, which we still know very little about, by designing “space-oriented” versions of “things around us”. We chose “a chair for space” as the first theme. We have not yet decided on the next theme for the chair, and it has not yet been decided whether we will work on the next theme after completing the chair research or whether we will work in parallel, but we will try to create as many different “space designs” as possible, with members from different professions sharing their opinions from their respective fields of expertise.


If you are asked to draw a chair, you will probably be able to do so without much trouble, as it is a familiar tool that we all see and use on a daily basis. However, if we were asked to draw a chair, we could do so without much trouble. These shapes are probably convenient for us to use in our daily lives, in other words, they are suitable for the earth’s environment. I am sitting on a chair right now as a matter of course, but can I use this chair in space without inconvenience? This is my intuition, but I can say with confidence that even if it could be used, it would probably not be convenient. The process and result of thinking of a chair that can be used in space without any problem, conveniently or pleasantly, must have “the unique rules of space” and “the difference in shape from that on the earth”. Knowing both of these, I expect that we will learn a little more about the universe. Even experts do not understand everything about the universe. Even the experts don’t know everything about the universe, and we, the “general public,” are even less sure. (I am ashamed to say that I only have the sense that it seems to be an amazing place.) If we can learn a part of the universe through free research on this chair and other themes, we may be able to see the “universe,” which is now just vague, as a figure with a “feel” as if we could touch it with our hands. The title of the site is intended to express such expectations. The title of this site expresses such expectations.


Conceptual diagram of the rules of the space and the optimal chair. I would like to glimpse the universe through the ideal shape and the rules associated with it. Illustration: Yuichiro Tani

Reasons for choosing a chair

We live surrounded by a variety of chairs. Photograph: Adobe Stock


There are several reasons for choosing a chair as a theme: First, because a chair is a difficult subject, and that is why it is worth the challenge. The chair is a product with a long history. We do not know exactly how long people have been using chairs, but we can imagine that they must have existed long ago.

Looking at its design, countless furniture makers and designers have taken on the challenge of designing a chair. I studied the basics of design in college, and it is considered a basic education for our profession to the extent that there are classes on chairs called “masterpieces” not long after admission. Since many masterpieces already exist, it is a great challenge to find brand new goodness and characteristics. At the same time, a chair is an everyday tool for any person, and it is easy for anyone to evaluate its design. In a sense, we are professionals who have been sitting on chairs since before we can remember. Based on our vast experience in the past, we can make evaluations such as “looks comfortable/not comfortable,” “looks cool/not cool,” and “looks relaxing/not relaxing,” even if we are not consciously aware of it. As a designer, the chair is a theme that is easy to tackle, but also presents a high hurdle.


The second reason is that the contrast is easy to understand and would be an ideal theme for learning about space. The purpose of this project is to unravel the differences between chairs in different environments, the environment on Earth and the environment in space. As you can easily imagine, common chairs are greatly affected by something called “gravity. In other words, in a zero-gravity environment, a different answer will be obtained, and if a clear difference in the answer is produced, it will be easier to compare. In the first place, the difference will be easy to understand because the products are familiar to us on a daily basis. This ease of comparison is one of the reasons for selecting the theme.


There are four main types of space, depending on the presence or absence of gravity and the presence or absence of air. Space on the earth, the moon, inside the International Space Station, and outer space represent each of these. Illustration: Yuichiro Tani

The third is future potential. If a piece of furniture is so needed on Earth, it is likely to be needed and used in human life even if we spend more time in space in the future, or even if it becomes commonplace in the future. Even if the chair we are now developing is just a test piece, it will be worthwhile to work on it considering such future significance.

Future Plans

Our ultimate goal is to design a specific “space chair,” but before that, there are several things we need to do. First, we need to research and decide on many things, including a deeper knowledge of chairs on Earth and what kind of space setting we will use them in in space.

Draft table of contents and list of things to do from now to the conclusion.  Illustration: Yuichiro Tani / Adobe Stock

On this site, we do not want to present only the final design, but also document the process of getting there. If my hypothesis is wrong, I may revise it from time to time, so it may take a long time to reach the goal. If you would like, I would appreciate it if you could take a peek at the progress of this theme from time to time.

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