07-10-13 // MARY AND LYN

A chair called MARI and a stool named LYN

In financially difficult times we have to be innovative when it comes to spending money on objects for daily use, such as seats and office furniture. Thus we designed two very simple and very affordable pieces of furniture that can be self-built within just a few hours: a chair called MARI and a stool named LYN. Both seats complement each other, just as Bonnie and Clyde or Laurel and Hardy, creating a whole, just like the names of the two seats complement each other: MARILYN. While MARI’s function is rather limited to that of a chair, LYN can be used, for example, as an extension of MARI to create a bench, or as a simple footstool, as a table, or even a bookshelf. Nevertheless, both pieces of furniture can be used and produced separately as well.

MARI as a chair and LYN as a footstool

LYN can be used as an extension of MARI to create a bench

The material used is one of the most profane, unglamorous and affordable substances: Styrofoam boards, in this case blue ones, usually utilized for the thermal insulation of buildings. It was invented in the 1940s by a group of US-based researchers and chemists, decades before it became world famous as a material for architectural presentation and test models among architects and architecture students, after having been used by the Dutch architectural avant-garde of the 1980s and 1990s. This way MARI and LYN are celebrating Styrofoam not only as a great model making material that is very light – Styrofoam consists of ninety-eight percent air – highly stiff and very easy to cut, swims while resisting moisture, and is relatively cheap, but also as a great architectural design tool in general. MARI and LYN have to be seen as an homage to an extraordinary material.

MARY in the scale 1:1

Assembly instructions for MARY (Download A5 booklet for MARY)

LYN in the scale 1:1

Assembly instructions for LYN (Download A5 booklet for LYN)

Build It Yourself
The MARI and LYN project is a do-it-yourself-project to its core and designed to be used by anybody who is interested in and in need of affordable new office or home seats. It provides all necessary plans on a 1:1 scale and an instruction booklet to facilitate the easy assembly of both seats and without the help of experts or professionals. In that sense MARI and LYN offer an alternative to the ever-growing contemporary consumer culture that relies on others to satisfy even very basic needs. To be able to build MARI and LYN you only need to print the booklets and the plans that are linked above and below, borrow or rent a hot-wire foam cutter, if you don’t have one yourself, get yourself a Styrofoam board, cut it into pieces according to the assembly instructions and glue the pieces together with ordinary paper glue.

Plan to build MARY (Download A1 plan for MARY) (Download A1 plan for LYN)

Free Design
MARI and LYN are designed to be used for free. Only a few euros need to be spent to buy two Styrofoam boards and two bottles of around 250gr of paper glue or anything that makes the Styrofoam pieces stick together without melting them, and a bit of time to build them. Ideally, a 125cm long, 60cm wide and 5 cm high Styrofoam board should be bought for each seat and cut into 28 pieces for MARI and 22 pieces for LYN. The Styrofoam board dimensions used are standard measurements for such boards and therefore available in most hardware stores. By using a Styrofoam board of such measurements almost no pieces will be left, neither for MARI, nor for LYN. Both seats are designed in such a way that one single Styrofoam board with the dimensions mentioned is used in the most efficient way: almost entirely.

MARI and LYN are a way of storing Styrofoam boards in your house or office in a very practical way

Ephemeral Existence
Once MARI and LYN are no longer used, they can easily be cut into smaller pieces and re-used as materials in crafts, model building and specifically in architectural models. The seats can also, for example, be turned into flowerpots, toys, seedling containers, picture frames, or any other small and useful objects. That way the original investment of a few euros is not lost once the seats are no longer wanted. As the individual pieces of MARI and LYN are never smaller than around 10 by 10 by 5cm, it will be very easy to cut off the glued edges and still gain very useful and clean Styrofoam pieces for other purposes. By following such a ‘concept of afterlife’, MARI and LYN are, right from the start, a way of storing Styrofoam boards in your house or office in a very practical way, whilst the design of the seats is considered something ephemeral from the very beginning.

Title: Mary and Lyn
Project: Furniture Design
Date: October 2013
Programme: Chair, stool
Status: Built
Publications: De Grote Rotterdamse Kunstkalender
Team: Bernd Upmeyer, Eleni Karagiannidou