Paradox Stool

  • Prize
    Winner in Stool
  • Designer
    Siyun Xue
  • Other Credit
    Model: Zhentao Chen
  • Photo Credit
    Siyun Xue
  • School
    University of Iowa
  • Location
    Iowa City
  • Project Date
  • Project Link
  • Web URL

I visited the Harvard Art Museums in winter 2023 and came across Max Bill’s sculpture titled “Endless Surface in the Form of a Column.” Bill created a puzzling structure by splitting, twisting, and reuniting a long column, illustrating how cumulative subtle changes can shift a surface, despite being inconspicuous when we focus on only a small section. I take Bill’s sculpture to be an illustration of the sorites paradox.

This understanding of Bill’s sculpture inspired me to design the “Paradox Stool,” a sturdy 3D-printed stool with a neat appearance, in which its seat utterly transforms into its feet via a series of apparently insignificant subtle changes.

I transitioned into design after many years of philosophical training because I was convinced that design is crucial and powerful. Consider the evolution of modern design objects over the past century or two and how they have significantly transformed our world. While human needs undoubtedly influence reality (that is, everything produced), it is design that plays a pivotal role in guiding and shaping those needs, albeit not always in a positive direction. Working as a designer, I am interested in exploring the expressive power of forms.