New Twist

IDSA Student Member Part of Duo Launching Flexible Wood Furniture

University of Kansas industrial design students, including an IDSA student member, are using an Undergraduate Research Award to design and create wooden furniture products with flexible, bendable wood. Jack Figgs-Hoard, S/IDSA, and Michael McCulley are seniors. 

“We wanted to make something that would be a lot more functionally easy but also very beautiful and still comes from this interesting manufacturing method that comes up with an unexpected quality,” Figgs-Hoard tells The University Daily Kansan, which has posted a video showing the students in action.

The budding entrepreneurs have named their online business Modern Nomad Furniture. The duo is using flexible wood with a kerf pattern (cutting a series of small slits into the wood and using tap-together joinery) to create ready-to-assemble furniture such as chairs, lamps and shelves. “We’ve done all our machining on KU machines that are free through our program. If we were to go through some manufacturer, it would be thousands of dollars, and by taking advantage of what our program has to offer, we have saved tons of money and time,” says McCulley.

The students are envisioning generations of furniture based on their current concept, and someday hope to turn Modern Nomad Furniture into a national business. After graduation, they plan to build capital through a possible online campaign or an investor. “We’re just now hitting the ground running in terms of making it a real thing rather than just a project we worked on in our senior studio.” McCulley says.

“Through the entrepreneurial program, we’ve made multiple iterations of business plans, financial plans, marketing plans, all based around this concept,” says Figgs-Hoard.