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01/30/2013

Design Duet

Designer Joe Doucet works in (somewhat) perfect harmony with Bernhardt Design to create the Duet conferencing chair.

By Kylie Wroblaski

 
  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_1.jpg

    Duet's low-key style fits into any space without overwhelming it. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_2.jpg

    The sleek and simple arm of the Duet chair serves two purposes: to support the back of the seat and to create a number of different visual levels within its environment. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_3.jpg

    The sleek and simple arm of the Duet chair serves two purposes: to support the back of the seat and to create a number of different visual levels within its environment. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_4.jpg

    The sleek and simple arm of the Duet chair serves two purposes: to support the back of the seat and to create a number of different visual levels within its environment. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_5.jpg

    The sleek and simple arm of the Duet chair serves two purposes: to support the back of the seat and to create a number of different visual levels within its environment. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_6.jpg

    The sleek and simple arm of the Duet chair serves two purposes: to support the back of the seat and to create a number of different visual levels within its environment. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_7.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_8.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_9.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_10.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_11.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_12.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_13.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0213/I_0213_Web_DesCol_14.jpg

    THE DESIGN PROCESS
    Designer Joe Doucet's goal of creating an unassuming form that would fit into the smaller collaborative spaces found in offices today meant a long and involved prototyping process. The team eventually went through 16 different prototypes before settling on the final form that would become Duet. View larger

As traditional conferencing areas in the modern office continue to shrink, it seems like task and conferencing chairs have gotten bigger and louder. From boldly architectural backs to neon-colored mesh, our chairs are rapidly becoming the focal points in a world without walls. And while it’s certainly an interesting trend, it also begs the question: What’s a designer looking for a little nuance to do?

For designer Joe Doucet and the staff at Bernhardt Design, that question was the starting point for what would eventually become Duet.

“What we wanted to do was create a conference chair that’s a bit of a chameleon. The issue with most conference chairs is that they have a lot of technical constraints. People tend to start off addressing those constraints and you end up with very overly engineered pieces of furniture,” Doucet says. “What we wanted to do instead was develop a chair that could sit within any architectural environment and not dominate it.”

As Todd Campbell, design director for Bernhardt, tells it, the decision to opt for simple and subtle instead of trendy and technical made for a novel challenge.

“It’s much easier to design something trendy for the day than it is to pare it down to a simple form that feels comfortable in any environment and will feel comfortable in that environment for years to come,” he explains. “Joe had the idea that he wanted the chair to be unique without trying to be unique. For us, it’s about trying to develop a product that’s simple and still kind of universal.”

Doucet certainly didn’t choose an easy project for his first contract piece. The design group created numerous prototypes during the months-long collaborative process, not settling for anything less than exactly what everybody in the group wanted. They would eventually put together 16 prototypes in all.


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