The process of designing MIA by Jose Navarrete

This project started as collaboration between Jose Miguel Navarrete a designer and a local upholsterer. The idea was to design a line of furniture integrating CNC technologies to manufacture the frames and to combine them with the comfort and tailored look of traditional upholstery methods. 

Sketch by Jose Miguel Navarrete

Sketch by Jose Miguel Navarrete

We wanted the furniture to have sharp angles and to mimic the sleek look of the feline shape. Once the concept was decided, we prepared shop drawings and plotted them in full scale to get an overall sense of dimensions, and of the design. 

Autocad and Rhino3D are our friends when it comes to prepare shop drawings.

Autocad and Rhino3D are our friends when it comes to prepare shop drawings.

The next step was to visualize the proportions of MIA in 3D, and the best way to do this was to create a basic full scale foam core model.     

This step is crucial to improve the design in a non expensive way, as some adjustments in the shape were noted directly in the model.

This step is crucial to improve the design in a non expensive way, as some adjustments in the shape were noted directly in the model.

Once the design was finalized a CAD model of the frame with all of its components was developed. JD MCNicoll Interiors, a Toronto based CNC wood working shop was approached to manufacture the frame out of a rigid material. A Thermwood CS45 3-axis CNC mill was utilized to create the next working prototype. 

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1st CNC model assembly process.jpg
This model was useful to see the design of the frame in a rigid material; it also allowed us to begin to determine the requirements for upholstery.

This model was useful to see the design of the frame in a rigid material; it also allowed us to begin to determine the requirements for upholstery.

At this stage we needed to re-design some elements of the frame in order to increase its strength. Stress points were reinforced and a second revised CAD model was created. During this redesign, by changing some of the parameters in the computer model MIA became a system that could be arranged depending on its function. Here are some examples: 

MIA - Lounge chair 

MIA - Lounge chair 

MIA - Sofa

MIA - Sofa

MIA - Daybed ( double arm )

MIA - Daybed ( double arm )

The frame prototype was CNC machined out of high quality 3/4" Baltic Birch Plywood, structural ribs were added to the frame, and then it was professionally assembled and corner blocked.  

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To prepare the frame for upholstery, jute webbing was used for the back and rubber webbing for the seat, and a combination of hard and medium density foam were used to build up the seat and back padding. Special attention was given to this stage to maintain the signature shape and sleek lines of MIA, while still providing comfort and durability.

At this stage MIA is ready to be upholstered with the client’s fabric of choice. For the sales prototype will use a fabric with a high rub count.

At this stage MIA is ready to be upholstered with the client’s fabric of choice. For the sales prototype will use a fabric with a high rub count.

In the next instalment we will discuss the process of fabric selection and the addition of finishing touches.

Thanks for reading