A designer chair doesn't come cheap. An Eames chair, for instance, runs into the thousands of dollars. But designer Nathan Tobiason isn't looking for a few grand for his pop-up designer chair. What he wants is a unique experience.

Tobiason, 26, is a recent graduate of Hampshire College, a liberal-arts school in Amherst, Mass., and originally from Coronado. As part of his final project, he created a modern chair and ottoman inspired by the pop-up books and cards he created as a kid. They're made from a single sheet of Baltic birch plywood assembled in a way that goes from completely flat to upright by lifting a handle. An additional piece of wood can be pulled out and unfolded to create the ottoman.

"The idea behind the design was to make nice furniture that's easy to transport and store because people move so frequently," Tobiason says. "A lot of it was an after-effect of the function."

After returning to San Diego, Tobiason and a friend made a batch of the chairs. When their relationship ended, however, he was left with 20 chairs piled up in his house.

"I didnít know what to do with them, and I wasn't having a good time selling them," he says. "So I came up with the idea of trying to trade them, and not getting money for them but getting some emotional value from them. I put a lot of time into them, and I didn't want to put them on craigslist for free, though I was near that point."

So far, Tobiason has traded half of his chairs and received some interesting things in return. One person traded him flying lessons over La Jolla. Another trader sent him a box of homemade sensual massage oils and lube. For the remaining 10 chairs, he hopes to get more cool experiences.

"If someone wanted to take me spear-fishing, I would love that," he says. 

Tobiason is currently working on a coin-bank design that he hopes to sell. He funds his design projects by playing poker at the Palomar Poker Room on El Cajon Boulevard. You can check out the pop-up chairs and make the designer an offer at pleasetradewithme.com.

Write to alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also bug her on Twitter.


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