Ever come across one of those ideas that is so brilliant and crazy – it makes you wonder why no one has done it before? Artist and interactive designer, JooYoun Paek takes the cake on that front with her recently revealed Self-Sustainable Chair, a wearable piece of furniture which is a dress where the butt inflates into a chair through pumps in the shoes. Paek hopes the provocative art piece will “transform the humdrum experiences produced by routine walking commutes into an amusing interactive performance.” Featured at this weekend’s Conflux Festival, her quirky and intriguing project suggests that rest and walk can be balanced by re-thinking the function of what we wear.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Paek’s “chair” more closely resembles a wearable outfit than a piece of furniture and is is composed from a pair of shoes, pumps, and polyethylene. The polyethylene is used to create a dress and a bubble that are later welded together so that the bubble is situated on the back side of the dress. As the wearer walks, foot pumps push air through the tubes, blowing up the bubble and creating a chair suitable for sitting. The experience looks quite amazing – watch the video to fully get a sense of how it works.

During the Conflux Festival, Paek hosted a workshop at Eyebeam designed to help curious individuals (including yours truly and a couple of friends) construct a self-sustaining chair. Paek guided us in replicating her project, from explaining the materials to troubleshooting when we hit a snag. The entire process took a little over three hours, and began with gluing the shoes to the pumps and concluded with ironing the bubble onto the dress. In the end, my team’s Self-Sustainable Chair was only semi-successful – while our bubble inflated, a small puncture in the plastic caused the chair to collapse.

The workshop generated many interesting observations and reflections upon the possibilities of using the kinetic energy generated by walking to fulfill a useful function. Some suggested constructing the chair out of recycled military parachutes or other recycled plastic materials in order to strengthen its durability and bolster its green cred.

Both fun and fulfilling, JooYoun Paek’s workshop certainly inspired dialogue about creative acts of experimentation aimed to change our daily lives. It also established the Self-Sustainable Chair as a functional, if quirky solution to every pedestrian’s dilemma: finding a place to rest.

+ JooYoun Paek

+ Conflux Festival 2008

+ Eyebeam, Art and Technology Center