The Tom Vac Chair was designed by Ron Arad in 1999 for Vitra. Made from steel and polypropylene, this chair not only looks good but makes an even more comfortable seat. Incredibly versatile, this chair can be used both indoors and outdoors and also can be stacked five high.
I particularly like this bright yellow rocking chair version.
As part of Clerkenwell Design Week 2014 and to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the chair, Vitra asked about 20 design practices to customise the chair any way they wanted. Here is an interview with Ron Arad where he talks about the chair and the different variations created in its honour.
I saw the customised entries at the Vitra showroom in Clerkenwell. The creativity unleashed on the Tom Vac was astounding! These are my favourite customisations:
Reflect-on by Make Architects
The Reflect-on by Make Architects was inspired by the original Tom Vac’s inspiration which was a sculpture in Milan. The figurines were created by the people at the architecture practice. As a result, this piece is supposed to blur the lines between sculpture, furniture and architecture. I think it looks like a giant vortex where the people are sucked into the hole. Maybe I have been watching too many sci-fi movies!
This is the Udder Tom which has the chair representing a cow feeding lots of cows. Interesting idea to have the white plastic dripping down as milk.
This piece is Tom Woof which has the chair part created to look like one of those hats dogs wear after surgery so they don’t lick or bite their wounds.
This piece called Tom Void is very conceptual. The designers took a mold of the Tom Vac chair and then removed the chair itself. Only the concrete cast is left and hence, the subtitle – Where Tom Gone? Sorry, the subtitle reminds me of a children’s story book.
Those Were The Days
This piece entitled Those Were The Days is actually the Tom Vac created as a swing seat. I actually think the candy-coloured buttons are very pretty and the whole thing has a sweet nostalgia very different from the original. Of all the designs I liked, this one is the only one that can even pretend to be for seating.
I did not take a good photo of this Tom Vac customisation. Seen from the side, this piece called mVac is actually the Tom Vac turned into a gramophone. Very clever use of the shape!
Get Into The Groove ’97
The last one I really thought was clever was this piece which created a collage on the Tom Vac and made it a very Pop Art piece. I have no idea what it means but anything referencing Mother Teresa, the Verve, Roy Lichtenstein, Madonna, Roald Dahl and Hanson lyrics in the same piece is a winner with me.
If I had to choose among them, I think I would go with Tom Woof. I love dogs and one of the funniest memories I have of our dog is how pitiful he looked when he was wearing one of those dog hats. Really, he was so hamming it up – you would have thought his life was over. What do you think? Which one is your favourite?