The Invisible Design Project educational programme has worked with visually impaired students to launch the "first furniture line designed by blind people" (+ slideshow).
Students designed a range of four chairs as part of the six-month-long series of weekly workshops set up by Rodrigo Brenner, founder of Brazilian design studio Furf.
Participants were taken to a factory to learn about processes and materials, and tutored in the theory, methodology, and history of design. Brenner then set a brief that simply asked the students to "create furniture to sit on".
Students created initial sketches, ergonomic studies and proposed product measurements which were shared with the Furf design team and the factory producing the chairs, who assisted with technical aspects.
Luis Gustavo's Walk chair unites the seat and back into a single bulky leather-upholstered piece, which rests on stubby wooden feet, while Thais Castanho's bar stool recreates the distinctive rounded shape of a violin for the seat.
Bruno Leaf's chair has tapered legs that end in wheels, and a chair back with two oval-shaped cut-outs, and Kleyton Maçaneiro's armchair has been designed to resemble the pages of an open book. The seat is sandwiched between rectangular wooden frames which serve as both arms and legs.
"It's surprising how much they can actually understand and 'see' design better than most people would," Brenner told Dezeen.
"Their focus is on the functionality and the experience itself, on the essentials of the forms and shapes."
"It is just remarkable how fascinated they are about creating a product that can tell a story and improve life somehow," he added. "They did and still do what most people believed was impossible."
The products were designed in 2013, prototyped and refined in 2014, and officially launched this year.
Brenner set up the initiative in partnership with the Paraná Blind Institute in Brazil, building on Furf Design Studio's own methodology that focuses on designing away from pens or computers.
"I deeply believe that the most beautiful and important part of design is invisible," he said. "But a belief might sound empty without something that proves it, so I created the Invisible Design Project to share the importance, poetry and essence of design to blind students."
"The visual can attract, but it is the immaterial content that makes someone fall in love with something, awaking the desire."
"A beautiful person without content is empty, so is a product that is only visual but mute," he added.
Photography is by Daniel Katz.
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