During our time in Costa Rica while eating meals together, interviewing community member or just hanging out I constantly found sitting in an extremely comfortable rocking chair made of simple materials, just rebar, and rope. Once I got back home to Canada I kept thinking about this chair design, wondering how the design found itself all over Costa Rica? One family we worked with in El Cocal made these chairs in his backyard and sold them as a side business, this made me think of how I could help the community by leveraging this design and the need for more employment in many places such as El Cocal.
After arriving back in Canada I started to research this chair. The chair, which is locally referred to as Sillas Mecedoras is a mix of a classic American designed mid-century rocking chair made of rebar and cord and the classic wooden Costa Rican rocking chair. In the late 1960s, many American chair manufacturers moved production to Latin America bringing the classic design with them. Over the years workers from these factories redesigned these chairs incorporating aspects of there classic wooden rockers into them, creating this hybrid chair that can be manufactured in small workshops all across Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica I really wanted to purchase one of these chairs to bring back to Canada, unfortionaly due to there design they do not come apart for easy shipping, making it extremely expensive to ship.
For the final design, Keeping with the original design the seat changes very little from the original design. I wanted to keep what I felt was the two most important aspects of the design alive. The seat and backrest, these are the most critical portions of the design from a comfort and ergonomics perspective.
To allow this design to be flat packable I needed to find a way to allow the base to be easily removed from the seat/backrest and to include as minimal work for the end-user. The final design uses a system consisting of the two side pieces and two cross braces connecting the side pieces with the base/backrest units. The side pieces are meant to emulate current trends in North American outdoor furniture with sleek yet subtle curves, sharp edges, and large sweeping organic shapes.
The design requires only two materials, new or recycled rebar and PVC cord. With many communities already having a background with welding due to the large ship repair industry finding trained staff would not be a problem, this project would also allow for on the job welding training for youth and unemployed, giving them the training they need for a career for life.