I designed the form chair for M. Steven Ells in 1995 for use in Chipotle Mexican Grill stores. My form chair was modeled on a plywood chair that Bruce Gueswel built as a copy of chairs designed by an architectural firm for a small Frank Lloyd Wright house renovation. The plywood chair had a narrow rear leg spread, and was a bit unstable. Steve asked me to design a more stable chair, and I got started. In my San Francisco loft, Steve and I were working with some simple brazing-rod chair frame models that I had made, and as I recall, Steve created the apex bend under the seatpan. We both liked it. I continued to refine the design and reviewed the ergonomic dimensions and the structural considerations. I built a 3D digital model, and dimensioned views of the chair using MacBravo CAD on an Apple Powerbook 170. I contacted three potential fabricators in Denver, and Doc Watters responded as a promising candidate. Steve, Doc, and I agreed to proceed with a run of chairs, and I drafted a production royalty contract with Steve with a provision for design rights to revert to me if Chipotle stopped ordering the chairs. Doc made a change to the bend location for the rear legs, changed the apex bend direction, and narrowed the seat pan width (to fit more onto a sheet of plywood) as he was setting up tooling and experimenting with the build. I reviewed and agreed to the changes. The steel frames initially powder-coated silver-gray, but Steve chose to change the finish to galvanized (zinc). I designed and sent to Doc a rubber stamp to imprint
form - designed by
san francisco 1995
and a serial number stamp for marking the bottom of the plywood seatpan on each chair. Doc built at least 244 chairs to supply the first seven or so Chipotle stores. Steve shipped chair #244 to me, and contacted me to request feet for the chairs to reduce noise from the chairs moving on the concrete floors of the stores. I couldn't respond at the time, and Bruce Gueswel took over the chair fabrication after making the requisite design change to make the chair unique from mine. Bruce used rubber-isolated p-clamps between the steel frame and plywood seat and back to quiet the chairs. Bruce has continued since that time to provide his chairs to Chipotle.
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