A product design that went viral

With a great interest in creating and a Swedish Master’s degree in Industrial Design, Snehan Chakravarthi’s chair, which combines work and rest, went viral at Milano Design Week 2019. A design that was anything but easy to produce. Today he manufactures his product in Sweden – sustainably and of high quality.

Snehan Chakravarthi was born and raised in rural India. Ever since childhood, he has liked creating and has been inspired by designers and engineers who create unique products together. After graduating from his Information Technology degree in 2018, he moved to Sweden to pursue a design education. And although his qualifications weren’t really enough for a Master’s in Industrial Design, he was nevertheless accepted by Lund University thanks to a strong portfolio.

After his degree, Snehan started his own company to continue chasing the dream of being an established designer. His latest product is a chair intended for both work and rest. It’s the result of a project he worked on together with Ikea during his studies. But the idea was not born out of thin air.

“After spending endless hours sketching a new piece of furniture, I had zero inspiration. I was unhappy with just about every one of my ideas, so I turned off the computer, gathered all my sketches into a pile and took a mental break. When I sat there with my eyes closed I came up with it – I needed a transformable piece of furniture that could help stressed workers like me take a break,” explains Snehan.

“When the prototype was shown at Milano Design Week 2019, it went viral. It was only then that I was able to see the commercial potential of the idea.”

But the journey to a finished product was anything but smooth.

“I was maybe a little too ambitious when I started by spending eight months designing the finest work and rest chair ever. Because when it was time to manufacture the piece of furniture, it turned out that the production cost and sales price didn’t match, which made it impossible to operate it as a business.”

After eight seemingly wasted months, Snehan could not afford to keep the company afloat. He then decided to restart the process with an entirely new design. And from the major interest in the first prototype, he was able to secure both pre-orders and investment in the new design. Since then he has worked with several companies in product development to create an affordable and commercial-quality version of his chair.

And it was no coincidence that the manufacturing ended up in Sweden.

“Entrepreneurs in Sweden have access to a wide range of resources that help to grow and expand companies. Producing a product from scratch in a country like Sweden is an exciting journey. A journey that is good for the company in terms of sustainability, quality and marketing.”

Snehan’s biggest driving factor as an industrial designer is to be able to contribute to society with his ideas. And it was one design in particular that made him realise that. When he was working as a volunteer in home care, he saw the problem of how to easily move a patient from their wheelchair to their bed. The result was an aid that made lifting easier.

“Designers are among the best problem-solvers in the world. We combine knowledge from engineers as well as artists, manufacturers and customers. The end result is new products that actually contribute to something people need.”

If you had to switch places with a celebrity for a day, who would it be, and why?
“I would like to spend a day in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes to see how someone in his position uses his talent to create engaging digital experiences for people all over the world. But if I couldn’t be Mark for a day, I would ‘settle’ for a day as Gautama Buddha.”

Is there anything that gives you a little extra inspiration?
“There’s nothing I think is so inspiring as seeing Elon Musk revolutionise the rocket industry and silence all the naysayers.”

If you could be the designer responsible for any product in the world, what would it be and why?
“I would want to be the creator of the most advanced AI driven robots. Robots that are developed to be superior to us humans. I would like to ensure that they demonstrate both humanity’s good and bad virtues, but that they learn to imitate the good.”

Brave New Business