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São Paulo- CISARTE

Bench & Stool

20   /   03   /   2018

Group Members
  • Erin Teich
  • Kassi Sturgill
  • Ruozhang Qian
  • Juliana Nunes Xavier
  • Carla olielo
  • Debora Shino
  • Beatriz Garcia
  • Pabulo Mazzucco


Research Methods

We started our research by doing case studies. We looked into reusable materials such as foam, cardboard, plastic bags, and tires. We originally wanted to use cardboard  for our stools, but we realized that it would not be the most durable material over time, mostly because the street situation people might come inside from the rain and sit on the stools causing them to deteriorate. After deciding that we would use wood for the stools, because of its durability and availability in Brazil, we started to conduct research on different ways to construct stools. Through this research we were able to learn a lot about how to make stools more sturdy and even possibly connect to one another. One feature that we knew we wanted our stools to have was flexibility and modularity. We liked the idea of having multiple stools that would combine to form a longer bench or other shape. After coming across some images of a trapezoid shaped bench, we became interested in the possibilities of this shape. Using chipboard, we cut out some trapezoids to experiment with the various formations that they could make. We liked this concept and decided to experiment more with the base and structure through our small and full scale models.

After doing research and analysis of the current problems and limitations in CISARTE we decided to design modular seating which is easy to move and form into both group and individual seating. We started by finding inspirations online and experimenting with different shapes such as trapezoids, rectangles, and hexagons. We built some small mockups that were easy to assembly and that were able to form various shapes. Considering the limited time we had and the material and tools we had access to when we were going to be in CISARTE we agreed on further developing the idea of the trapezoid stool which has multiple formations and is easy to make with wood strips. We used several wood strips to make the top of the stool, we used one strip for each leg, and we used other strips to connect the legs. After refining the design, we built a prototype to test its stability and made further refinements. Since we didn’t have enough strips available during our studio time, we removed every other strip on the top of the stool when we built the prototype in order to test the overall stability while keeping within the material limitations. The prototype was a little wobbly but was stable enough for people to sit on. We made new sketches and decided to angle the legs so that they would go along the edges which will allow people to sit on the edge without the stool tipping and we decided to change the orientation of the beams in order to create more stability.


Once we arrived at CISARTE we met with professional woodworkers, such as Carol, and Mackenzie students to discuss our design. During this conversation we discussed how to make the stools more stable. We found out we needed to have the support planks between the legs in a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal orientation. We also decided we needed to add more supports between the other legs so that there would be supports connecting all the legs together. These changes helped make the stool extremely stable. We found out we had wood planks and plywood available for our use, so we decided to have the top of the stool made out of plywood instead of wood planks. With this change we decided to add a frame underneath the plywood out of the wood plans in a trapezoid shape to add more stability and to attach the seat to the legs easier. With Carol’s help, we discovered the best methods for putting together the stool. First, we created the frame for underneath the plywood seat. Then, we put together the frame that would connect all of the legs. Next, we connected this frame to the legs. After this we attached the legs to the trapezoid seat frame. Lastly we attached the top of the stool to the framing then sanded the entire stool.

Team reflections

One thing that really surprised us about this trip was the relationships that we made with the Brazilian students. We were not expecting to have so much in common with them, despite the fact that we came from two different cultures. The students were so welcoming and showed us some of their favorite spots around the city. They really made us feel included and we formed some great friendships over the course of the week. Working collaboratively with the students taught us a lot about communication because we had to deal with the language barrier and time zone differences. Being able to spend time with locals and with Heini and Yani allowed us to know the best places to go in São Paulo in order for us to have the most fulfilling experience possible. We were able to meet some of the street situation people who we were building our stools for and were even able to see them interact with the stools on the last day. This was very fulfilling watching them genuinely enjoy the product we created for them and to see people rearranging our stools in their own formations. This trip taught us a lot about collaboration among different cultures, how to travel in a foreign country when you do not know the language, and about international social impact.

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