U Chair

Xiaoxiao Pu

I was inspired by the shape of Vignelli’s Circolo Chair, 1979. I designed a lighter, more practical office chair by following the original chair’s visual language while providing a variety of combinations of chair legs to choose from in order to achieve the different needs in the work space.

U Chair by Xiaoxiao Pu

U Chair Xiaoxiao-2U Chair by Xiaoxiao Pu


Circolo, in Italian means circle, but in Vignelli’s design Circolo chair is not just a round shape.

Formerly Hauserman, Inc., a leading producer of movable interior walls, was founded by Earl F. Hauserman, who bought out part of the building supplies dealer for whom he worked and organized the E.F. Hauserman Co. on 24 Mar. 1913. The company manufactured and installed finished, ready-to-use steel sashes–an innovation which produced an initial boom in sales. From this beginning the firm, at 6800 Grant Ave., developed and manufactured movable interior steel partitions, becoming their exclusive producer by 1927. After making prefabricated steel houses and aircraft parts for the government during World War II, Hauserman’s sons, Fred M. and William F., returned to the production of movable interior steel walls and organized a network of direct sales offices. The company built a new plant on Grant Ave. in 1958, acquired a steel ceiling firm the following year, and by the early 1960s had expanded their sales into Canada and Europe through subsidiaries. Hauserman enlarged its product line through acquisitions to include office-system design and the production of wood and steel office furniture. Keeping pace with its growth, the company reorganized as Hauserman, Inc., in 1972, with the E.F. Hauserman Co. as its U.S. subsidiary.

The firm acquired Sunar, a Canadian office furniture manufacturer and designer in 1978, a move which increased its sales to a record $135.7 million in 1982. By merging its 2 North American subsidiaries in 1983, the company became Sunar-Hauserman, Inc., with 8 plants and over 60 sales offices. During the 1980s, increased competition and shrinking profit margins adversely affected the firm’s business and it reported a loss of $7.6 million in 1987. By 1989 a continued sluggish economy had taken its toll on the Cleveland Corporation, forcing it out of business. Now it has gone bankrupt.

In the 1970s, Massimo and Lella left Unimark and opened their own office, Vignelli Associates, in New York. Their client list included Knoll, Bloomingdate’s, Minneapolis Museum of Fine Arts and other clients of all sizes. However, they were very selective, knowing that a bad client brings a worse one next time.

They preferred projects where they could do their best, without compromise or fear, dealing most of the time with enlightened clients in charge of their own businesses. No middle management terrorized of making mistakes! No focus groups on our landscape!

Research Citation

“Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:SUNAR-HAUSERMAN, INC.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:SUNAR-HAUSERMAN, INC. Web. 15 May 2012. http://ech.case.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=SI3.


As you see, the general look of chairs in 70s is square shape with two separate arms. In this case, circle chair shows its unique figure among those items. At the same time, circle chair used same material to connect arms and back so that we can see a semicircle shape from the top view of the chair. Therefore, I kept the shape of the Vignelli’s Circolo Chair and used in the design of office chair.

U Chair Xiaoxiao-Inspiration1

U Chair Xiaoxiao-Inspiration2U Chair Xiaoxiao-Inspiration3


First, I think up for “circolo” chair and drawn sketch for the different styles. After that, I did mock up to figure out my thoughts. At this stage, I added a multiple choice for chair legs so that the customer can choose their favorite. Then, I used computer modeling to calculate the optimum ratio between the seat and legs and the best seat assembly methods. Finally, I 3D printed the computer model. Through the use of spackle, primer, paint, I completed the 1 to 6 refined models.

U Chair Xiaoxiao-Process1

U Chair Xiaoxiao-Process2U Chair Xiaoxiao-Process3