Street Seat | Design Museum Portland
The beauty of Oregon’s forests is undeniable. And at nearly 30 million acres, forestland comprises nearly half of the entire state and makes Oregon the largest lumber producer in the United States. However, everything made out of wood inevitably creates more waste, sawdust, and scraps than one might imagine. What if we could reuse this waste to create something new, something beautiful?
Our goal for this design was to showcase the natural beauty of wood, and to use this material in an innovative and sustainable way. We discovered that our friends at a sustainable beehive company in Portland were looking for ways to use their abundance of wood scraps and sawdust. They use three different species of wood in their products-- sugar pine, douglas fir, and western red cedar-- all of which are FSC certified and sourced within a couple hours of their mill.
We envisioned preserving the sawdust as if it is a manmade fossil, or a precious new material, by suspending it in resin. We brainstormed ideas for the design of the street seat itself through a group design charrette, sketching a wide range of ideas and exploring concepts. After we narrowed in on a few ideas for the form we experimented with the resin and sawdust to test processes and aesthetics of the combined materials. We sprinkled in various amounts of sawdust in desired areas, testing different densities and patterns.
Lara LaFontain - Project Designer
Sam Sudy - Project Designer
Lucas Gray - Project Designer
Tuan Vu - Project Designer
The material studies produced a range of aesthetic outcomes. We then refined the design through additional collaborative design charrettes, editing our ideas based on the material studies. We worked through ideas of solid versus transparent materials, utilizing larger scraps in addition to sawdust, and figuring out the size limitations of the resin.
We kept the geometry simple so that the materials can speak for themselves. People can sit on the street seat in a variety of ways, and might set a coffee or a book on its vertical supports. They can appreciate the grain of the solid wood pieces up close, and enjoy the quality of light filtering through the transparent resin.
The design utilizes the sawdust and wood scraps in a way that captures the ephemeral nature and beauty of wood in its raw form. The concentration of the sawdust around the solid supports reflects the transformation that occurs when creating anything with wood, freezing in time that which is typically discarded.
In addition to the Eugene Parklet, we’ve designed these other Street Seat and Parklets:
Eugene Framing Parklet – https://www.propelstudio.com/project/eugene-parklet/
Wine:30 Parklet – https://www.propelstudio.com/project/wine30-parklet/
Bamboo Sushi Parket – https://www.propelstudio.com/project/bamboo-sushi-parklet/
Bonfire Lounge – http://www.propelstudio.com/project/bonfire-lounge-street-seat/
The Portland Bench – http://www.propelstudio.com/project/the-portland-bench/