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.
Example of Sillas Mecedoras found all across Costa Rica
Having wrapped up our 3-week project with a community presentation the night before too say the least we were all exhausted, running on no sleep and lots of amazing Costa Rican coffee. We departed from our temporary home and said goodbye to Quepos, El Cocal and many of the amazing staff that helped us over the past few weeks.
We drove from Quepos to La Fortuna, taking around 4 hours. We arrived and were immediately taken to go see the iconic La Fortuna waterfalls. This breathtaking waterfall is over 75 meters tall, cascading down from the Arenal Volcano landing in a picture perfect pool of clear yet absolutely bone freezing fresh water. I like most people immediately jumped into the water, not expecting how refreshing it was after walking down 500+ steps. We spent around an hour swimming, lounging and taking pictures, then it was time to make the journey back up the 500+ steps. Taking what felt like a lifetime we finally all made it up to the top, exhausted and sweaty.
Heading back, we rested back at the hostel for a while, having a well-deserved break. Later that day we knew we were going to experience the Arenal Volcano hot springs, not knowing that our guide Julius was treating us to an amazing night at a 5-star hotel’s hot springs. When we landed at Baldi Hot Springs Resort we were all taken away by how beautiful this place was. We were treated to a buffet of amazing food, a great break from rice and beans! After dinner, we started to explore this crazy place. It was not just a couple of pools like we expected but a massive wonderland of hot springs. They had 25 different hot pools with varying temperatures, extreme water slides, steam caves, and jacuzzis. After several hours, maybe a few concussions from the water slides and being perfectly relaxed by the hot springs it was time to call it a night, heading back to our hostel for the night.
Day 6 started bright and early with a trip to Manuel Antonio national park. The bus ride there was familiar, and the park was anything but that. One of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, we were split into two groups with two guides to help us explore it all and spot all the fascinating creatures who made the rainforest their home. like a much better version of “where’s waldo?”. Words don’t really do it justice, but hopefully, some of the photos will get close. Sloths, Monkeys, hummingbirds, flora and fauna galore. It’s paradise. Much like so, so many places here. The highlight for me, personally, was a large wooden observation tower that capuchin monkeys have made their headquarters. The fearless monkeys were play fighting, launching themselves from tree to tree and observing us as much as we were observing them. Arriving at a secluded section of the Manuel Antonio beach, our group split into two so half of us could search for more elusive sloths. We were not disappointed. We found Sugar monkeys, and both the two and three toed variants of sloths. The last spotting was so good it had our guide giddily filming it and narrating his find for his Instagram. After about three hours we strolledout of the rainforest and into a charming beachside restaurant. We arrived at a small seaside restaurant called Seaside Burru in Manuel Antonio next to national park. This was the first time since arriving that we felt like we truly could just relax. After having lunch all together as a group we where given the rest of the day to our selves. Many from the group decide to make a beach day out of it, heading to Espadilla Beach to ride the waves. We later all reconvened back in Quepos at our hostel for a well deserved low key meal and swim in the pool. Tonight many of us plan on heading back to the town of Manuel Antonio to explore more. I know all of us are ready to get back to work tomorrow in El Cocal.
Davis & Henry