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Behind the design: Kaya

Design Guild Mark - November 18, 2022 - 0 comments

Inspired by nature, Kaya by Morgan Furniture was awarded a Design Guild Mark in the 2022 Furniture category.

We spoke with Erin Johnson, design manager at Morgan, to find out about the development of Kaya.

What initially inspired you to make Kaya?

We were exploring the concept of ‘relaxed luxury’ and we were inspired to design this product to fulfil a requirement for a beautifully crafted timber frame with sumptuous upholstery.

Can you explain the concept for Kaya?

Kaya finds its roots in the openness, honesty, and purity of trees. The crafted timber frame’s gentle curve and soft upholstery are designed to provide relaxed luxury. Simplicity is further embodied in the upholstery, which features only the most essential elements, sculpted, and fitted to provide enveloping comfort. Expressing the structure separately from the upholstery creates a clarity and lightness to the collection. The collection also features two back options: cane or timber slats, offering greater aesthetic versatility. Kaya is versatile, intended for interiors from hospitality through to the workplace. Whilst the smaller lounge chair caters to projects requiring a minimal footprint, the larger lounge and high back chairs offer presence and impact within spacious environments such as lobbies, breakout areas and gallery spaces.

While Kaya draws inspiration from nature, technology played a crucial role in its production. The frame’s smooth curving lines were made possible using three and five axis CNC manufacturing. Individual timber sections are small, with multiple lightweight supports in place of a single larger component. With an emphasis on space and light, the collection evokes an atmosphere of ‘komorebi’, the Japanese word for sunshine filtering through leaves. As with a lush woodland, Kaya’s frame finds strength in numbers. We looked beyond the heavy materials and density of the built environment, peeling back the surface to reveal the pure form within.

How have you struck the balance between function and design with this product?

I think we have a great balance of this as we offer differing chair typologies, from dining, small lounge, large lounge and then a high back lounge. All of these are available with either a slatted timber or cane detail to the back, which enables our clients to specify this option, but in four standard timber finishes (beech, ash, oak or walnut), with 11 standard polish colours, should their wish to have a stained timber finish, as well as then endless fabric options that they can specify.

Who does this appeal to?

The design has appealed to all our sectors, and we have seen the Kaya collection specified in hospitality, workplace, cruise and healthcare.

How long did the design process take, from initial sketches to roll out?

Nine months (February 2019 and launched November 2019).

What modifications did you make along the way?

We refined the structure and jointing methods to retain and delicate frame with structural integrity.

In what way do you think this design is different from anything else available on the market?

The Kaya collection has a very individual aesthetic due to its basket like structure. This open frame does not fall in to the typical ‘scandi’ aesthetic, as it has multiple individual timber sections which are small, in favour of larger components. The Kaya collection was designed with the intent of using the absolute minimum amount of timber, whilst producing the least amount of waste. By using small components & sections, we were able to make use of off-cuts of timber and nesting for efficient timber use. Separate frame and upholstered elements optimise flow through our production process, but more importantly facilitate easy replacement or re-covering of the seat and back pads to extend the product’s lifespan. Easy separation of the timber frame and upholstery ensure the different material elements can be broken down easily and processed individually at the end of the product’s lifespan. Our approach to sustainability stems from our belief in ‘Right First Time’; a Lean manufacturing principle which strives to minimise waste. This principle involves a culture of continuous improvement, so that we are always aiming for a way to better ourselves, our processes, and our thinking. It is a firm part of our organisation’s values and can be applied throughout our business. Lean manufacture encourages us to minimise resource waste. Our focus on upholstery for the Kaya collection has also been paramount as foam can present a sustainability challenge for furniture manufacturers. Kaya utilises recycled chipped pieces of foam and a feather composition in both its seat and back. This provides a soft and luxurious sit, without any compromise, and with sustainability at its core.

What was the most challenging aspect of the design?

The biggest challenge was ensuring that the placement of joints and the thickness of the components did not compromise the design or the structure.

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