Coterie - a seat for friends
Coterie is designed to be a portable loveseat to get us out of the typical portable furniture routine. The most popular designs use an X-frame folding technique that has been around for decades and I believe as over designed and over explored furniture  is there is always room for development and always room for exploration.
Research
Portable furniture has been a staple in outdoor activities since the 13th century, addressing the timeless need for comfortable seating on the go. The act of sitting not only relaxes the body but also provides an opportunity for individuals to unwind and engage in meaningful conversations. 
Folding chair from Thebes in Egypt, dating to around 1400 BC.

Folding chair from Thebes in Egypt, dating to around 1400 BC.

Kelty Lowdown Couch
Alps - King Kong Chair

Demographic
The target audience for Coterie is a group of about 3-4 friends about 27-32 years old. They enjoy getting out on the weekends and going anywhere.  They might have two portable couches or one couch and 1-2 portable chairs. They spend nights around a fire and days relaxing with one another.
GOALS
1. Unique Frame/Structure
      Most of the common camping chairs structures are what I call an X frame, where the chairs base legs use an X shape on all four sides to provide structure and collapse into a series of near vertical poles. Many camping loveseats copy this structure and simply multiple the number of seats. I am plan to design a creative solution to life's classic problem of sitting off of the ground.
2. Ease of Use
      Based on my demographic I want my loveseat to both simple to set up and simple to take down. This does not need to be an super complicated process because this is not going very far. I want the user to be able to pull it out and set it up in less than 2 minutes to enjoy relaxing with friends and love ones.
2. Weight Capacity
      After speaking with industry professionals I have learned how important weight capacity and safety capacities are in furniture. Weight capacity being the recommended weight limit of the user and safety capacity being how much the product can actually hold. For example a high end camping chair might have a weight capacity of 300 lbs. and a safety capacity of 600 lbs. to allow a 300 lbs. user to be able to fall or adjust or get comfy above the 300 lbs. safely.  Ideally for a camping loveseat if were using the 300 lbs. user then we would want the couch to be about +600 lbs. for both users and about +1200 lbs. safety capacity.
ideation
Concepts
To showcase my ideas and receive critique from a larger audience I rendered my 3 major concepts  in the AI program Vizcom. These are the results:
This was a simple design hoping to reimagine the current X-frame chairs and couches into an appealing, but unique seat form. It's scissor frame makes it's learning curve low. This seat lost points because it's not visually interesting, mostly looks like an okay seat to sit down on
This loveseat received a lot of positive feedback for its distinct hanging seat. Audiences loved how low it sat and how sturdy it looks. Some negatives are the bends in the from keep it from being fully flatpack-able and the bar in the back makes it unstable in difficult terrain.
The inflatable concept came with both many likes and dislikes. Most people enjoyed it's whimsy and comfy design and want to curl up by a fire with its cushiony structure. Many people have pointed out it's flaw of popping in the outdoors. This could be avoided with a hard plastic base, but not forever. It's weight would be a problem too, that much strong plastic would not be light.
Other Research
These mockups were made to show people where I was heading with my designs. In addition to AI renders, these provided people with something they can feel and see how they work.
This lovely photo was taken by an employee at the Central Rock Gym in Rochester, NY where I went to get feed back from active and outdoor individuals. I showcased my mockups as well as my AI renders. And received feedback on my concepts.
NEMO - North Eastern MOuntain Outfitters
From this project I came into contact with the furniture developers at NEMO. Holly Leone has met with me on 3 separate occasions to discuss the designing process as well as give me critiques on my designs.  This winter I spoke with her and fellow designer at NEMO Rich Woessner. They gave me a tour of the NEMO facility and what they do day to day. Lastly they talked with me about my final concept and gave me helpful advice about avoiding bent pipes.
Final
After discussing the pros and cons I have decided to take the hanging seat further into development. It's design is the most unique and visually appealing, while still maintaining durability  and a possibility for a lightweight design.
Next Steps
The next steps are to finish a digital CAD model to examine size and make corrections to the design. As well I plan to make larger mockups to fully understand the footprint of the couch. Eventually the goal is complete a full "looks like" model by May of 2024. I plan to continue to talk to people and get as much feedback as I can throughout the project.
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