Sunmao is a Chinese phrase "榫卯" which means wood tenons and joints. It is one of the oldest and most durable structures which had been used in Chinese architecture history for more than 3000 years. However, this technique began its decline because of the influence of Modern construction materials and techniques. It is in danger of dying out and is in great need of salvation and protection.
So we proposed a project to help this old traditional technology and cultural heritage to be transferred to the next generation with our new interpretation.Sunmao is inspired by a master signature wood joint design piece called “Lubansuo”(鲁班锁) . It is also an ancient Chinese six-piece burr puzzle game which means it has inherited those most significant skills and philosophies. It turned out to be a huge challenge to embark on designing an ancient architecture structure on a modern chair. Even though the technology applied is fundamentally the same as usual, we still wanted it to have totally different characteristics from its predecessors.
Indeed, our predecessors have accumulated the knowledge that is necessary to achieve complex and effective design over the years and the intricacy of the joints improve the character of the wood, bringing it alive. Many different kinds of joints preserve the natural strength ratio carefully balancing shear, bending, torsion, compression and taking shrinkage into account as well. The structure of Sunmao Stool is obvious and not hidden away. The purity of the wood, the weight and raw beauty, all of these present the intense physical power of architecture. The very precious proportions of the wooden block and the three legs give the chair an arcane charm and an elegant appearance but its purposes still remains mysterious.
Sunmao consists of different elements, a supporting structure (six pieces of wood which can be assembled without using a single screw) and the acrylic seat. However, we have not bonded these elements together so that each piece can be disassembled and flat packaged. We were trying to direct all of our attention to refine the comfort and quality of manufacturing. The acrylic seat is also an informal way in which the transparent material covering the wood joints allows us to see the quintessence and intelligence of Sunmao. Prototypes that already be made by Benwu Studio including the SSA (Sunmao Stool Acrylic 550mm×485mm×420mm ) and the STW (Sunmao Taboret Wood 365mm×325mm×280mm ).