Furniture Design - Sustainable Design - Product Design

Fostering Community Interactions through Furniture and Costa Rican Design 

This design piece, titled A Seat at the Table, is a picnic table with bench seating designed to facilitate community interactions and the enjoyment of each other’s company as a reflection of the beautiful community interactions I had in El Cocal, Costa Rica. The most lasting impression Costa Rica left on me was how hospitable, kind, and open the people are towards each other as well as to us as visitors. Sharing stories, knowledge, and, of course, food, really became a big part of what I loved the most about being in Costa Rica, specifically because it helped me get to know the people in El Cocal as well as my classmates in a meaningful way. I wanted to create something that would facilitate these kinds of interactions as well as pay homage to El Cocal.

The Design Abroad: Costa Rica class had a final assessment when we had returned to Canada; create something, anything, that represents your time designing in El Cocal, an informal community near Quepos, Costa Rica. 


I knew I wanted to make a picnic table to sum up my Costa Rica experiences because we were constantly sitting at them there. Many family homes in El Cocal have 3 or more generations under one household, making picnic tables the optimal seating for gathering. I knew that people in El Cocal would repurpose anything they find to make new things, especially for seating, so I made the design by repurposing wood pallets. I adorned my design with a painting style found throughout Costa Rica, La Carreta Tipica ("typical cart"), which was originally used in the early 1900s on a family's prized possession, an ox cart. 




I modeled several picnic tables on Rhino until I found a design that was welcoming and simplistic. OCAD U's shops and studios aren't open in the summer, so to make this piece I had to use some basic tools in my backyard. I used an angle grinder to strip nails from the pallets, a circular saw to cut each piece to size, and a hammer and nails to put it all together.


For the patterns, I researched La Carretta Tipica and made a series of similar patterns on Adobe Illustrator to project onto my table and benches in order to be painted. I carefully outlined and painted every detail on the table until it was complete adorned with La Carretta Tipica decals.  



A Seat at the Table has found its permanent home in the Evergreen Brickworks and can be seen, sat on, and enjoyed at their TD Future Cities Centre! 

Exhibited in "Design Abroad: Costa Rica" gallery at OCAD University's Great Hall in November 2019.