Gobstopping Fractal Stools Created Using The Magic of Magnets

There’s something reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland in these stools. Maybe it’s the mushroom shape or the trippy colors or the giant, hookah-smoking Caterpillar lounging on top. Oh wait. Must be imagining that. Moving on! Jólan van der Wiel is the Amsterdam-based design student who developed the tools and the materials to create these so-called Gravity Stools. And he’s kind of a design magician. Van der Wiel created a machine--something of an anti-vise--with magnets situated opposite each other. To build a stool, he inserts a concoction of plastics and iron filings (more than 13 pounds per stool!) in the machine’s mold. Then, he slowly draws back the upper portion of the machine. As the material stretches with the magnetic pull, fractal patterns (think: Superman’s Fortress of Solitude) emerge in what become the legs of the stool. The overall shape of the chair is determined by where Van der Wiel places the magnets. Each piece takes about 20 minutes. But chairs are just the tip of this fractal factory. Now, the designer is able to create bowls and chandeliers with the same machine. Van der Wiel hopes to build an even bigger machine to make larger items like tables. And since the stools can hold up to a whopping 300 pounds, there’s no problem of bigger objects being too fragile. Van der Wiel insists that all he’s done is rethink what nature has already supplied. “This is a departure from the idea that everything is influenced by gravity," he tells Co.Design. "I’m manipulating this phenomenon by exploiting its own power: magnetism.” [Images courtesy of Jólan van der Wiel]

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