Students like to design chairs. More so, they like to redesign the chairs they sit on at school. If you ever want to see a high school class come together to problem solve, ask them to rip apart (figuratively, not literally...’cause they can do that too) their classroom chairs.
Designing a chair is one of the most common projects for beginning designers. The popularity is justified because everyone uses chairs. Being a common object, many people have unique ideas about their design elements. Most people can agree that they have sat on an uncomfortable chair at some point in their lives. Comfort is one of the more undervalued luxuries in society. We consider comfort to be something that comes in addition to the function of an object when in reality it should not be separate from the function.
Feel free to download this lesson which focuses on using only cardboard to create a chair that can hold a specific weight. It's a great cross-curricular project!
I have been teaching art and design at the middle and high school level since 2006 and learning about both for a lot longer.