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Ikea's stretchy 3D-knitted chairs are like shoes you sit in

Using a process more familiar to the footwear industry (like the JS Shoe), Ikea is introducing its first piece of 3D-knit furniture — a chair. High-end design firms have begun to play with 3D knit fabrics, but Ikea will be among one of the first to introduce the process on a global scale.

While it’s been around a while, 3D knitting is going a bit more mainstream lately. Using a digital design and your measurements, the machine can knit a piece of clothing perfectly fit for you. Ikea’s machine can knit with wool, but also linen, cotton, and polyester, materials much more suited to furniture.

The stretchy fabric created with the 3D knitting process mimics the comfort of a hammock and is designed to look semi-transparent and to be lightweight. The chair is part of Ikea’s PS Collection.

“At Ikea, we have been curious about this 3D knitting technique for some time,” designer Sarah Fager told Dezeen. “We have all seen it being used in those colorful sneakers and it’s a really smart way to produce things, since it’s fully automatized.”

Ikea’s PS 2017 Collection also includes items made entirely from recycled products, like a set of vases created using glass unfit for other use. Much of the collection as a whole was designed on the factory floor. “By working directly with the suppliers, the designers also have found ways to create comfort using as little material as possible and to flatpack furnishings more efficiently,”PS 2017 creative lead James Futcher said earlier this year. “For example, the development team was exploring the use of a flat-bed knitting machine to create a very thin, lightweight material that is not only extremely comfortable but also eliminates the need to pack and ship big pieces of foam.”

The 3D knitted chairs will be available in early 2017 in pink or grey, with a white or black frame. They’ll cost $158 (£125).