SketchChair marks the first Kickstarter project by Diatom, a design studio based in London and Lisbon. The project consists of an open-source software design tool that allows anyone, tech-savvy or otherwise, to design—and, if the project is Kickstarted, build—his or her own bespoke furniture.
Principals Greg Saul and Tiago Rorke met while studying industrial design at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Diatom represents their interest in "the possibilities of interaction, digital fabrication and computational design."
The SketchChair, then, represents a step towards making advances in digital fabrication available to the general public. Saul and Rorke acknowledge their debt to IKEA even as they hope to move beyond the mass-market business model:The SketchChair software itself consists of a rudimentary drawing interface, which translates a 2D sketch into a pattern for an actual piece of furniture, and a physics engine that tests for physical feasibility. Additionally, users can "sit" in their chair with a virtual model of themselves.
Diatom turned to Kickstarter in order to 1) bridge the gap between design and execution 2) catalyze a community of would-be furniture designers and 3) refine and improve the underlying software for the good of this community.
Of course, Saul and Rorke's ultimate goal is for anyone and everyone to visit SketchChair.cc, find inspiration and design the chair of their dreams, which can then be flat-packed and shipped (à la IKEA) to their doorstep.
Even if you don't have $300 to spare on Diatom's flagship prototype, the Antler Chair (pictured above), a pledge of $25 will get you a miniature version (below).