Sofia Matheou is a 23-year-old BA Product and Furniture Design graduate from Kingston University. Her final project is Inflate.
Design Week: Can you briefly explain the project and your motivations for doing it?
Sofia Matheou: Many people perceive inflatable furniture as cheap, uncomfortable and not suitable for long-term use. My goal was to transform inflatables into high-end statement pieces, while prioritising sustainability.
Throughout this project, my aim was to create straightforward and honest designs that demonstrate the potential of inflatable furniture in an innovative way. I utilised an inner tube, a steel frame and donated leather offcuts from upholstery manufacturer Coakley & Cox. This eliminated the need for the foam, padding and glue typically found in traditional furniture. Additionally, these pieces are lightweight, easy to transport and can be deflated and re-inflated whenever necessary with a standard bike pump.
I approached this project with an experimental mindset, exploring various frame designs and inner tube sizes. Through this process, I have created a range of furniture that provides a glimpse into the possibilities of using inner tubes within furniture design.
DW: What was the most challenging aspect of the design process?
SM: Designing the frames for this project proved to be quite challenging. The main difficulty was finding a way to hold the inner tube securely without making the frames too obtrusive. To overcome this, I delved into different sizes and styles for the frames, experimenting with various options to find the best way to showcase the inner tubes effectively. It took a lot of trial and error but, ultimately, I was able to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics.
DW: Where do you see your design career in the future?
SM: In the future, I envision myself working on projects for different brands as a freelancer. The kind of work I do is heavily concept and experimentation based. I have a strong desire to keep working at the intersection of art and design, combining the two in my practice.
Check out other graduate projects from this year’s cohorts here.