Over time our eyes become pretty good judges of tactile qualities, assessing if a surface will feel hard, soft, coarse, or smooth at a glance. The Lilo bench by Connor Holland, however, embodies a bit of visual trickery and makes steel look as cushy as an air mattress.
“People are often shocked when they discover that it’s actually metal,” Holland writes on his website.
The designer used a technique called hydroforming to create the bench. First, he cuts two identical sheets of metal, then stamps the superimposed sheets, cuts a hole in one side to hold a spout, and completely seals the edges by welding. He then screws in a hose and lets the high-pressure water flow in. Because of the metal’s ductility, it “inflates” like a balloon.
At this point, it still kind of looks like misshapen metal, so Holland polishes it off to a sheen and applies a glossy blue coating. Voila—a steel bench that appears as buoyant as a pool floatie.
The bench got its start after Holland tried to create 3-D objects from flat materials. He’s not alone in experimenting with optical illusions when it comes to texture—other examples include Areaware’s Liquid Body Flask and Snarkitecture’s iPhone Pillow. Deception never looked better.