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News

Sitting on soft blocks

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 29 April, 2005  (Company News)
For the creative among us, who don
This particular company regularly manages to maintain its prominence by creating unusual furniture which finds its niche outside the mainstream, but which is always completely in tune with the times. The latest creation of these Dutch trendsetters is 'Missy', a designer chair which fuses metal and polyurethane in an intelligent blend of joy in design and classic comfort.

The seat itself and the backrest of the chair are made of a curved aluminum shell, which is punctuated with approximately fist-sized cubes made of Bayflex®, a flexible integral skin polyurethane foam from Bayer AG in Leverkusen. This particular plastic gives these soft 'seating blocks' a high quality abrasion-resistant surface and despite its unusual design makes the chair as comfortable as an upholstered armchair.

The design philosophy of Mark Gutjahr, who 'invented' the chair and is a member of the renowned design group Kombinat, is based upon the dynamic tension between the formal shape with its rectangular and square surfaces and the materials used. The soft polyurethane 'seating blocks' appear to puncture the aluminum shell. The seat becomes a strictly geometric but nevertheless exciting blend of polyurethane and aluminum, which stands on filigree aluminum feet. When you actually sit down in the chair, this cool and yet vibrant combination becomes a haven of peace. The dotted surface takes your weight at key points and thus creates a high degree of comfort, which is still just as high a priority for 'designer' seating as it is for more conventional items.

The seating blocks made of Bayflex®, which give the chair a character which lies somewhere between retro style and NASA design, are produced in Switzerland by W+S Form Schaum AG in Hinwil, and are given a high quality polyurethane finish using in-mold-coating. The 'Missy' chair brings together a total of three different types of seating block in an inviting arrangement. 'In producing these components it was important to combine an exceptionally high quality and abrasion-resistant surface with a soft, comfortable core,' said Eugen Schmid, Production Manager at W+S Form Schaum AG. 'We solved the problem by using a Bayflex® polyurethane system from Bayer AG, which was foamed using isohexane as the blowing agent – this process creates a particularly good outer surface.'

'In this way we were able to produce soft, flexible molded parts, which not only have sufficient elasticity, but also have outstanding surface stability,' said Schmid. This is extremely important, as the indestructible, high quality surface not only guarantees that this unusual cushioning system will be long lasting, but it is also responsible for the fact that the flexible yet dimensionally stable seating blocks survive the manufacturing process of the chair undamaged. During assembly, they are pressed into recesses which have already been milled out of the aluminum shell. This production method has played an extremely important part in ensuring the commercial success of the chair and was made possible by robust polyurethane integral skin foams, which can be produced using cost-effective molds.
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