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Fortune Cookie-Inspired Chair by Jumbo for Heller

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Brooklyn-based studio Jumbo has crafted a unique plastic armchair for US manufacturer Heller, inspired by the distinctive shape of Chinese fortune cookies. The Fortune chair, created by Jumbo founders Justin Donnelly and Monling Lee, encapsulates the familiar pinched-circle form of fortune cookies, often enjoyed in Chinese restaurants.

The design holds personal significance for Lee, who recalls her first family visit to a Chinese restaurant after emigrating from Taiwan at 13. This nostalgic experience led to the creation of a chair that reinterprets the cookie’s shape with playful elegance. The chair features bilateral symmetry, ensuring it retains its form when flipped over, showcasing Jumbo’s dedication to furniture trends that merge aesthetics and function.

“Our studio is always looking for ways to make objects more reductive,” Lee and Donnelly shared with Dezeen. “One way we do this is by pushing symmetry, especially bilateral symmetry. By puffing up the forms, these simple, platonic geometries become much more comfortable.” Originally designed in 2020 as part of their Creature Comfort collection, the Fortune chair was initially envisioned in aluminum. However, after Heller president and CEO John Edelman discovered it on Instagram in 2022, the chair was reimagined in plastic.

The shift to plastic came with its challenges. Injection molding, the preferred method, was prohibitively expensive due to the cost of stainless steel molds. Instead, rotation molding and a double-walled construction were employed, resulting in a more comfortable and affordable design. The Fortune chair, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, is made from over 25% recycled post-consumer plastic and is fully recyclable, aligning with sustainable custom interior design principles.

A critical aspect of the chair’s design is its ability to support various seating positions, from upright to slouched. Through several full-size prototypes, Jumbo developed a continuous surface that offers versatile back support. The Fortune chair comes in six colors, each inspired by food, a nod to Jumbo’s belief in the emotional impact of color and form. “Food colors, shapes, and textures can create deep personal resonances and emotional effects,” Lee and Donnelly explained. The colors range from cookie-dough to rich olive and black cherry, with Heller’s classic white, black, and red reinterpreted as oatmeal, liquorice, and summer tomato.

Priced at $1,175, the Fortune chair is available exclusively at Heller and US retailer Design Within Reach. Founded in 1971 by Alan Heller, the company has a history of producing innovative plastic products designed by luminaries like Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Mario Bellini, and Frank Gehry. After Heller’s passing in 2021, former Design Within Reach CEO Edelman acquired the company, reviving its classic designs and introducing new ones by emerging talents like Jumbo.

Jumbo, founded in 2016 by Lee and Donnelly, is known for bold and playful designs that often employ visual softness, lending emotional resonance to their work. Their creations, such as the tubular steel chair and matching lamps from the Neotenic collection, reflect their innovative approach to furniture trends and custom interior design.

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