We began our design process by brainstorming characteristics and goals that define and embody Portland as a city. During our brainstorming and research, we discovered that Portland has had a significant transformation in the last few years, constantly growing and bringing many innovative companies such as Apple and Intel. We also knew Portland had many different cultures, with a great presence in sustainability, art, music, and coffee. Portland is a fun and creative city that is still growing and transforming.
So we decided to design a bench that can transform and interact with its environment and its users. A piece of furniture that invites people to physically communicate and express themselves with basic shapes and colors . A bench that expresses a personal message and impression even after the visitor leaves. When a visitor takes a seat, the bench allows them to tell a story, welcomes them to interact, to play, and to relax.
We were also inspired by interactive installations. These installations usually use digital sensors and actuators programmed to observe and react. But what if we dialed back and went analog to simplify the design and installation process?
Our team worked individually, meeting together every week to present our designs and discuss. After every meeting, we selected one design or design solution to push forward and refine. We divided up different aspects of the bench and worked simultaneously to develop this idea into a reality.
The final design is structured to be built as a bench with a high back. The back is then filled with a grid of 500 x 2 1/2 inch cubes on steel rods. Each cube is to be painted a different color using water based dyes, on all 4 sides and threaded onto the rod resting on top a countersunk nut. There is a total of 13 rods. The wooden framework and bench is designed to be CNC cut out of marine grade plywood and joined together without the use of nails or screws. Moreover, all cut pieces will receive a bio-based epoxy clear coat to be able to withstand the outdoors.
With the use of durable, sustainable materials and innovative construction methods, the quality and life cycle of the bench is extended. The combined weight of the bench and cubes will discourage any vandals from stealing the bench itself. Additionally, the cubes on rods will not slide off without dismantling the uppermost framework.