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Cabbage Chair

This is a chair. It was designed by nendo and the design director was Oki Sato. It is dated 2008 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is resin-coated waste paper. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The Cabbage chair was created by the design studio nendo (Japanese for “clay”). Nendo was founded in 2002 by architect Oki Sato who, in the same year, received his MA in architecture from Waseda University in Tokyo. It was also in 2002 that Sato made his first visit to the Milan Salone and, upon seeing the work of Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, became determined to exhibit there. The next year, Sato and his team at nendo had their first showing. Since then, the dynamic firm has taken on projects ranging from architecture and installation design to graphic and product design, for companies such as Cappelini, Lexus, and Oluce.
In 2008, fashion designer Issey Miyake invited young and upcoming designers, including Nendo, to create works for his exhibition, XXIst Century Man. The exhibition was organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the 21_21 Design Sight exhibition space in Tokyo and to address questions about 21st-century lifestyles and concerns for the environment. Miyake asked nendo to make furniture out of the copious rolls of pleated paper that are waste products from his fabric-pleating process. nendo’s response was the Cabbage chair, designed “without making use of conventional chair-manufacturing assumptions.”
The chair is not fabricated from assembled parts, and has no internal support structure; it starts as a simple roll of paper that is slit and peeled back by hand, layer by layer, to form the seat. The paper is resilient but flexible, which results in a soft and supportive seat. nendo considers the forming process to be so simple that the chair could eventually be put into wide distribution, “shipped as one compact roll for the user to cut open and peel back at home.”[1] In addition, the “primitive design responds gently to fabrication and distribution costs and environmental concerns, the kinds of issues that “are important design considerations for the 21st century.”[3]
The design not only makes use of a recycled material, but speaks to end-user customization, a growing trend in contemporary design. The Cabbage chair would be a significant addition to the museum’s collection of furniture design that utilizes paper as a structural material, which includes 19th-century European papier maché examples, Frank Gehry’s 20th-century corrugated cardboard chairs, and Yoshioka’s 21st-century Honey-Pop chairs.
[1] INDEX:Award, Design to Improve Life: Index:Award 2009 Exhibition (Copenhagen: INXEX:Award, 2009), 59.
[2] INDEX:Award, Design to Improve Life, 59.
[3] “Cabbage chair,” nendo,

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A poetic transformation of industrial waste.

This object was donated by Friedman Benda Gallery and nendo. It is credited Gift of Friedman Benda, New York and Nendo.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 78.7 x 74.9 x 68.6 cm (31 x 29 1/2 x 27 in.)

Cite this object as

Cabbage Chair; Designed by nendo (Japan); Design Director: Oki Sato (Canadian, b. 1977); Japan; resin-coated waste paper; H x W x D: 78.7 x 74.9 x 68.6 cm (31 x 29 1/2 x 27 in.); Gift of Friedman Benda, New York and Nendo; 2009-9-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition National Design Triennial: Why Design Now?.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Cabbage Chair |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>