treat Your Bench
Our design process started with sushi, but before getting into that story, we would like to mention that first and foremost we are adamant about being able to build this bench with our own two hands and with the tools that we currently have. This decision did not limit our imaginations and creativity when we were brainstorming concepts and forms, but directed the design process to dive deeper into researching various materials and mechanisms. Anyways, back to sushi. We went to a Japanese restaurant to kick-off our brainstorming session. To be honest, we could have dove into a meta discussion about the theories of benches and contemplated their societal purpose in public space and what we can do to change or interrogate its mass-produced design. Alas, we only had an hour for lunch, and we needed to be efficient with our time. We trust that our, what seemed like, two billion years of architecture school will intrinsically lead us in a good direction. So when the waiter gave us the paper with the sushi list, we quickly turned it around and immediately started sketching.
It was clear just from looking at our sketches that there was interest in creating a bench that was both flexible and able to morph or move in different ways. We discussed creating a bench that will unroll into its final shape, a bench that will bend and take shape of the human body, and of course, a bench on wheels. This process of intense sketching and discussion spanned at about a two week period while we also did a lot of researching to finesse our ideas; research on shapes and tectonic connections that will allow for movement. Additionally, every design interest we wanted to implement had to circle back to making sure we can actually build it. Much web surfing was done regarding hinge connections and unfolding or unrolling mechanisms. Intense sketching quickly progressed to intense paper folding. Not to have any connection at all with the initial sushi lunch, we also drew inspiration from origami in terms extending our understanding of folds and shapes and how it can morph into other shapes.
After different iterations, we settled on three pyramids that fold into a cube. We then did more research on how we were going to have a sharp shape that is a pyramid be an object that people can comfortably sit on. Again, circling back to constructability. this sprouted more research about easily accessible materials that are flexible and elastic and can take different shapes. This process of thinking, sketching, googling, and testing became a daily 1-2 hour charrette till we created the scale model and will most likely continue till the full scale bench.
Three pyramids that fold into a cube. People will unfold the cube and be able to sit on each pyramid. Each pyramid is comprised of three parts; the base, the cover, and the skin. The base is the inside structure, made out of plywood and 2x2s, that holds the flexible mechanism in place. The flexible mechanism is made successful with elastic fitness bands that weave around the base structure and follow a pattern from natural isocurves of a triangle. Smooth laminate flooring, will be cut in a pattern and attach to the elastic bands and act as scales that make up the skin of the pyramid. This strategy allows the pyramid to hold its solid and rigid shape when it is static and unused, but when someone sits on it, it will bend and flex to become a comfortable bench seat.
The last part is the cover, which caps the base to create a clean solid pyramid and also holds the hinge connections that connect the three pyramids together. The cover will be made from recycled wood sheets that have a layer of thick of heavy duty fabric material sandwiched in between, connecting each pyramid piece and allowing it to fold into each other. People are able to unfold the cube into various positions creating different types of bench shapes with the 3 connected pyramids. All materials can be acquired locally through various vendors. Also, being in the design industry, we have access to a vast network of suppliers and vendors. We designed this bench to only be built by the action of measuring, cutting, sanding, mitering, drilling, and gluing. Thus, everything will be constructed in-house with our tools.
Two female disrupters maneuvering our way through professional practice looking to find meanings, set precedents, and for fun, possibly bend the space time continuum. We also just happen to enjoy making and building things to make our daily lives just a little bit cooler than everyone else. Our backgrounds include a broad umbrella of design including but not limited to architecture, interiors, furniture, and computational design. Between the two of us, we have a miter saw, jig saw, skill saw, table saw, band saw, sander, planer, router, a bunch of clamps and drills, and more importantly, 4 hands and 2 brains.