Attendees of the recent Cusp Conference in Chicago were encouraged to ask questions and pick the brain of SAYL designer Yves Béhar. Speaking at the conference, Behar talked about problem solving and design, how he approached the design of SAYL, and the layers of its final design solution.
Here are Behar’s answers to a couple of questions:
I’m obsessed with the simplicity and the elegance of the design, but I’m curious to know how the design of the SAYL chair has an effect on its ergonomics, and also on the environment. When conceiving the design of the SAYL chair, and then actualizing it, how did you take into account the question of sustainable design, sustainable material, and use less but get more?
The very foundation of the SAYL chair was to answer the question, “How can I do more with less?” We wanted to deliver ergonomic excellence and do it at a lower cost and carbon footprint. The inspiration from bridges was important as I realized how minimal a tower and tension cable system is relative to the size and function of a bridge.
A lot of experiments took place to see if a similar tower element and a smart material in suspension would deliver back support and allow for upper body movement. The aesthetic of the chair came after we proved to ourselves that we could clearly build a lighter and more efficient design.
You spoke at length at the cusp conference about the source for the forms which comprise the Sayl Chair. You also addressed the economy of materials used to create each part…could you now please elaborate on how you look at the joining together of each of the parts to create the whole?
Too often, task chairs look assembled from a kit of parts, and often they are. There is a dance between SAYL’s functional engineering work and its cosmetic shaping, and there is a relentless desire to have parts run fluidly into each other. For example, I was particularly interested in making the arms look as if they were stretched and growing seamlessly out of their height adjustment posts.
There is also the idea of separate parts drawn as if conceived as one. The SAYL’s frameless back is shaped to both express the tension distribution from the top attachments and visually follow the form and exposed ribbing of the Y-Tower. As a result, the two parts are visually layered as if one.