It was love at first sight for Bjoda and me. I can't claim to know Bjoda's feelings in the matter—it's just a chair, after all—but from the moment I saw the knitted sofa/chair, I was lovestruck. Bjoda is the seating equivalent of your favorite, coziest Winter sweater. Hand knit by product designer Amaya Gutierrez, Bjoda was the result of Amaya's research into what comfort means. She discovered that beyond ergonomics, "comfort is a pleasing reaction to our senses," she said. "The conclusion was to enhance our tactile experience through the use of materials and textures by changing the scale of the textile and the way it wraps around the body's structure. In a way, it's an invasion of our senses, a sort of invasive cushioning."
Amaya Gutierrez is a product designer who works mainly in furniture and apparel, though she's developed a few other items as well, like the iThrone, an iPhone dock and amplifier that works without any electricity. Like the iThrone, which is made out of porcelain, the materials used to make Bjoda were extremely important. After playing with a variety of textiles and making 1/4-scale miniatures to see how how the thread count, thread size, elasticity and "fluff" changed depending on the kind of weave, she finally found the right material: nautical rope, also known as plain old cotton cord.
"But all this was to a smaller scale, so I had to develop my own tools to knit the sofa chair [in] real scale. Thanks to my exploration with the mockups...I knew what I needed to use, so it was a matter of figuring out the size for the knitting ring and the hooks to complement the knitting process. I also needed something that could serve as a supportive structure and could spring a little. The wire frame is strong as well as being lightweight, because the cord could get really heavy and stiff when knitted."
Each chair begins as a pile of rope and a circular piece of wood with big, thick nails around it like a wreath. Amaya weaves the rope around the nails until she reaches a certain height. Then she adds the wire-frame base for structure and support. The rest is just meticulous, labor-intensive weaving. "Each chair takes about 30 hours to knit, so about 4 working days to be completed," she said.
"At the end this chair is all hand made, so you have to find an efficient way to build it. This time I knitted it myself, but...my vision is to help single mothers (or anyone who has the need) to have a job they could do from home without the necessity to leave their young kids to go to work. They would be provided with the wire frame structure and the knitting tools and materials for them to build and finish the chair. They will be taught how to build it to stay true to the design."
"He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist".
-St. Francis of Assisi