East Asian Modern Furniture

East Asian Modern is a set of furniture designed for the underdeveloped market of East-Asian modern furniture, proposing designs inspired by East-Asian spatial theories like Oku and Movement Space rather than the typical focus on formalism or revival of past East Asian aesthetic styles. This project is both an in-depth research of East Asian cultural identity, and a hands-on real world prototyping of large scale furniture. Thus far, the collection includes a 3-seater low sofa and a modular bench unit. 

Type

Furniture Design & Prototyping, Design Research

Duration

5 Months

Year

2022

The EA Modern Low Sofa is a 3-seater lounging platform inspired by East Asian seating habits and the spatial theory of movement space commonly seen in Japanese interiors and Chinese gardens. The low sofa is a versatile piece that allows for various user scenarios, be it lounging, napping, social gaming, or reading. 

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EA Modern

Low Sofa

Functions and Accessories

The EA Low Sofa consist of a large 3-seater seating platform, movable backrests, and dual-function ottoman/side tables. 

Seating Platform

Most Western consumers enjoy large and cushiony sofas; however, the opposite can be said with Asian consumers. Western sofas can sometimes be too large and too soft for Asian body types. Therefore, the seating platform is designed to be quite firm and low to the ground to better fit the Asian body type and seating habits. 

Movable Backrests

By making the backrests movable, the sofa is no longer constrained to a single orientation (usually front facing a TV). This allows for the surrounding space and the usage of the piece to be more fluid and versatile. 

 

Ottoman/ Side Table  

The Ottoman/Side Table follows the same aesthetics as the seating platform. The dual side ottoman allows the accessory to be use as an ottoman or stool, or flipped over as a small table on top of the seating platform. 

Early Ideation

Most of the earlier ideations were focused on more bench or platform-like designs. However, with the prevalence and normality of sofas, these designs prove more challenging for consumers to accept. The low sofa design were easier for both Western and Asian consumers to accept.

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Prototyping Process

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Moving from the digital modeling to physical prototyping is always challenging, but also fill with serendipity. While some of the joinery details and proportions are not exactly as intended, the piece gained details that were only possible through closely working with practitioners.  

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EA Modern

Wota Unit

"Wota" is an East Asian furniture archetype similar to a hybrid between a daybed and bay window seating in Western cultures. The "Wota" is often incorporated in Modern EA interior designs as it is a great way to create a multi-functional space within a large space. As a single unit, it performs similarly to a bench, but it could be combined to create a bay window seating or a small raised platform not unlike a Tatami space.

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The Wota unit has a dual side removable top that can be attached with a cushion top and stored within storage when not in use. Depending of the interior space, the Wota unit can be pieced together to form different spaces, such as bay window seating, daybed platform, or a Tatami space.

The Wota unit is a low modular unit designed to be placed underneath a window to create seating, lounging space, and storage. Several units can also be pieced together to form a Tatami space, creating a space within a space. This layering of spaces, or "Oku," is valued in East Asian cultures as they provide a small unwinding space within a small living quarter.

Modified Design for Prototyping

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For the purpose of lowering budget and quick prototyping, the design was modified to be assembled without tools and fasteners. Dado and sliding dovetail joinery was used to allow the piece to be easily put together and disassembled.

Prototyping Process

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Early Ideations

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EA Modern Furniture Set

Living room furniture born from East Asian philosophies for East Asian homes and consumers.