From a portfolio of ideas proposed by AC/AL, the Latte Chair stood out. The slats were the defining feature of the design and these needed to be retained no matter what material we decided to move forward with. Initially the chair was designed from wooden slats (or “Lattes” in French) on a tubular steel base, however as the design developed, we concluded that plastic slats would make for a far more durable, long lasting and therefore better chair. As our first plastic product the environmental concerns came to the fore. If we were to develop a plastic product, we wanted to do it in the right way. At every step we were as environmentally conscious as possible.
Finding the right plastic was a large part of the extensive research and development phase. Eventually we found the perfect material in Trifilon which met all of our intentions for sustainable manufacturing. Trifilon is made from a biocomposite of 100% recycled polypropylene and hemp fibres, which reduces the amount of plastic used and also adds strength to the material. In addition, at the end of the materials lifespan it can be recycled again allowing for closed-loop manufacturing. The fibres also improve the CO2 emissions of the product and add a beautiful texture to the finished material.
To ensure we were designing a comfortable outdoor chair, we mocked up the seat in our workshop and through extensive prototyping we found the right position and shape. Once defined, the next challenge was how we were going to attach the seat to the metal frame. The most important aspect of this was that the seat was easily removable for recycling, but also watertight to the metal frame. The solution was a small stainless-steel rivet that clamped the seat to the frame.
Whilst we were finalising the proportions of the design, we realised that there was an opportunity to produce the seat and back in two halves without compromising the comfort of the chair. This reduced the size of the tool needed (and the tooling cost). The Colours for the chairs were defined by natural earthy tones that compliment outdoor spaces, and also age beautifully through use with the hemp fibres running through the material. Like the seats the frames are produced in the UK. The mild steel is primed against corrosion and then finished with a UV resistant powder coating.