Wiggle Side Chair (1972)

The Wiggle Side Chair is part of Frank Gehry’s 1972 furniture series ‘Easy Edges’, in which he succeeded in bringing a new aesthetic dimension to such an everyday material as cardboard. This sculptural chair is not only comfortable, but also strong and robust.

Cardboard Furniture

Frank Gehry was one of the first designers to produce cardboard furniture, having created the Wiggle side chair in 1972. Manufacturers had been seeking an alternative to plastic since the 1960s but struggled to find anything that could compete with its light flexibility.

Wiggle Chair
Corrugated cardboard with edges made of natural-look hardboard- Wiggle Chair

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/46cbf628-8d11-4b5b-9d10-73f753d52750 by sheilaellen

At that time, cardboard was often just a single layer and attempts to reinforce it were made by folding and inserting tabs and slots. But Gehry, who was born in 1929, came up with a solution thanks in part to childhood spent playing in his grandfather’s hardware store every Saturday morning, building villages and cities from scraps of plywood. One day, the architect saw a pile of corrugated cardboard outside his office and began to experiment. He was already using cardboard to build architecture models and realised that it became very strong when glued together. To increase the strength and resilience of the material, layers of cardboard were laminated at right angles to one another.

Wiggle side chair - Frank Gehry
Wiggle side chair – Frank Gehry, 1972.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/2ad225ec-19b4-49c5-8621-dfb5a59ca9f1 by puffin11uk

Easy Edge

Easy Edges is the name given to a series of furniture designs by Frank Gehry from 1969 to 1973. These early designs were partially responsible for Gehry’s rise to public recognition in the early 1970s. After discovering that corrugated cardboard layered enough times in alternate directions builds strength into the piece and make it suitable for the everyday use, Gehry created a series of pieces of furniture such as the “Easy Edges Wiggle Side Chair” that take advantage of the versatility of cardboard as a medium. Hardboard facing is applied to the furniture’s flat surfaces to add to the durability of the designs.

cardboard furniture
Wiggle Stool, Frank Gehry, 1972_ A cardboard design collection that we can call “historical” today is Easy Edges, a series of Frank Gehry furniture projects designed between 1969 and 1973

Image source: https://hivemodern.com/pages/product243/wiggle-side-chair-frank-gehry-vitra

Gehry’s use of cardboard as a medium demonstrates his “fundamental concern with manipulating basic materials in unconventional ways to produce objects that are functional yet also visually striking”.

cardboard furniture
Easy Edges lounge chair Frank Gehry, 1972.

Image source: https://insteading.com/blog/cardboard-furniture/

The Wiggle chair and table were hugely successful but Gehry was unhappy because the prices did not conform to his philosophy that furniture should be affordable to all. Gehry abandoned furniture design and returned to architecture.

Despite their appearing bafflingly simple, the “Easy Edges” are nonetheless constructed with an architect’s care and are extremely robust and sturdy.

Frank Gehry's Chair
Wiggle side chair – Frank Gehry

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/13787f3a-d938-4641-9de6-034751762024 by ivanx

Frank Ghery

Frank Gehry, born 1929 in Toronto, Canada, earned a degree in architecture from the University of Southern California before studying urban planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Frank O. Gehry - Parc des Ateliers (cropped).jpg
Frank Gehry in 2010

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Gehry#/media/File:Frank_O._Gehry_-_Parc_des_Ateliers_(cropped).jpg

In 1962 he founded the architectural firm Frank Gehry & Associates in Los Angeles. He designed the cardboard furniture series Easy Edges between 1969-72. Over the years he has taught at several universities, including Harvard and Yale, where he served as Charlotte-Davenport-Professorship of Architecture (1982, 1985, 1987-89) and where he still teaches.
Gehry has received numerous honorary doctorates from institutions including the University of Toronto, the University of Southern California, Yale University, Harvard University and the University of Edinburgh.

Data Sheet

Designer: Frank Gehry

Year: 1972

Manufacturer: Vitra.

Dimension: 33 x 14 1/2 x 23 in. (83.82 x 36.83 x 58.42 cm)

Medium: Laminated corrugated cardboard

Side Chair, 'Easy Edges'
Wiggle side chair, ‘Easy Edges’

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/af8ed8c3-2d3d-4e85-a39a-49fa34071cbf by Frank Gehry

Info source: https://www.ft.com/content/65ebb456-97cc-11e3-ab60-00144feab7de

Info source: https://www.danishdesignstore.com/products/frank-gehry-wiggle-side-chair-vitra

Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_Edges

Info source: https://www.vitra.com/en-it/corporation/designer/details/frank-gehry

Info source: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/4393/wiggle-side-chair-from-the-easy-edges-series-frank-gehry#