Height: 27. 75 in.
Width: 27. 5 in.
Depth: 29. 5 in.
I tried to think of a way to create
a modern product from a material
that is considered traditional.
The design then became about
the connections between old
and new, and that’s why the
form of the chair is endless—
there is no start or end.
I started with a lot of
drawing actually ended up
being this design—and then
made full-scale drawings
and mock-ups from foam
and wood. The final result
was achieved using a
combination of CNC-milling and hand-carving.
When I designed this, I wanted
people to touch the arms and
understand that they diminish
as they loop into the seat.
A difficult form becomes a reality, thanks to
persistence and lots and lots of computer models.
Last year Jerry Helling, the creative director of
Bernhardt Design, chose to commercially produce
four student ideas from a class he taught at the Art
Center College of Design, in Southern California.
One of the concepts, the dynamically angular Loft
chair—in profile, it looks like an obtuse triangle about
to spring into action—made its debut at this year’s
International Contemporary Furniture Fair and won
Gold at NeoCon.
The chair, by a student from Indonesia named
Shelly Shelly, was an exercise in perseverance. When
she first showed Helling her working sketches for a
wooden armchair consisting of a series of fluidly connected geometric shapes, he judged it perhaps too
difficult to execute. “He said, ‘Good luck with that,’”
Shelly recalls. In the end, it took 26 computer models to refine the design, in which 22 pieces of solid
walnut are joined seamlessly, at modern angles, using
traditional dovetailing. Here Shelly gives her thoughts
behind the making of Loft. —Belinda Lanks
The seat is very wide
and very deep to create
a lounging feeling.
Bernhardt changed just one
little detail: the legs were less
straight and more sculptural
on my own prototype.
To showcase the beauty of the
wood, I applied a natural finish
and used contrasting grain at
I consulted various people with
experience using a CNC-milling
machine, and they suggested
that walnut would work best
because it cuts nicely without
Shelly (b. 1983) studied fine arts at
the Maryland Institute College of
Art before transferring to the Art
Center College of Design, where she
earned a bachelor’s of science in
environmental design earlier this
year. Aside from developing her own
furniture creations, she works for
the Los Angeles office of the Berlin-based architecture firm Graft.