Pumped Up

Architect Gerard Dombroski explores the possibilities of hydroformed furniture.

Pumped Up

Architect Gerard Dombroski explores the possibilities of hydroformed furniture.

Nice chairs. What did you set out to do?

This project comes off the back of my ever-increasing intrigue with hydroforming, a process where we create a watertight cavity, in this case two sheets of steel welded together, into which we pump water. A household water blaster works perfectly. Water has tremendous compressive strength and the water blaster seems to have a one-way valve which allows us to inflate the steel like a balloon or a cushion. It allows steel to embody some more fabric-like qualities. There are notions of hard and soft I’ve been exploring for a few years now.

Explain your process here.

It is as much a building-process experiment as it is a design outcome. Material experimentation is one of my obsessions, and the way I go about furniture is very instinctive. I seldom ever draw anything more than a thumbnail, which is funny for an architect. I like to make my projects interesting and beautiful in their outcome and their building techniques. Much like architecture, I find furniture is really beautiful when form is tied to structure, rather than a structure that is clad over – I feel it’s more honest and holds more true beauty. Now that my architecture practice and my furniture/sculpture is within the same space, it allows for an intentional intersection of disciplines. Imagine a hydroformed house, for example.

Will you make more? 

These are a one-off, but I will continue to develop hydroforming and I’m not ruling out similar builds in the future. The base chair frame is a design I’ve been working with for a few months. I have plans to have some small-scale product runs with the chair frame with a myriad of different bases, rattan, cord and others.


Gerard Dombroski


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