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DURATION

August - November, 2019

TEAM

three members, with an individual instance

ROLES

Product design, graphic design, 3D modeling, ergonomic analysis, writing.

SUMMARY

In Unidad de Proyecto II 2019, we designed a product belonging to the circular economy called Beni. It is a rocking chair for users from 3 years of age that, when they grow up, can be used as a chair-table combination for up to 8 years of age, extending its useful life.

PREMISE

It was proposed to develop a design on the theme of Circular Economy - responsible production and consumption, from rethinking the design of products and systems so that they generate less waste, or possibly never become waste.

PROBLEM

Children's furniture is one of the types of products that has a shorter life span compared with the rest of the furniture industry since childhood is the shortest stage compared to the rest, the materials are usually of low quality and/or durability, and the tastes of the child change quickly, causing them to lose interest in using it.

1
Investigation

In this first stage, it was proposed to analyze a particular design, MAXintheBOX, taking into account the different components that contribute to its materialization, integrating tangible and intangible aspects. Based on the chosen case, various analyzes were carried out to visualize the totality of what the product represents and how it incorporates the concept of a circular economy.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY

The circular economy proposes a radical systemic change that aims at eco-design, industrial symbiosis, the economy of functionality, reuse, repair, remanufacturing, and recovery. This approach promotes innovation and long-term resilience and enables the development of new business models.

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MAXintheBOX

MAXintheBOX is a modular piece of furniture designed by the German Thomas Maitz. It is a device created for children from 10 months; it is made up of two modules in plywood, with box joints and screws. It is simple and fast to assemble, with very few steps, and it is equally easy to disassemble. 

 

This product was designed together with children and it offers a great possibility to experiment with space: children can use it as a chair/table, food tent, library, spaceship, bed, etc., stimulating their imagination and helping to form their identities.

In this first step, we were able to see and analyze how a product in the current market manages to incorporate the concept of circular economy. In addition to the use of a material that is completely recyclable and replaceable in case of breakage, it extends its useful life cycle when it becomes a child's companion as they grow. The use of plywood ensures that the furniture is durable, while the possibility of playing with it in whatever a child wants, helps to adapt to the different stages of his life.

2
Individual design

For the second stage, it was proposed to deepen into a circular economy, formulating a possible design of a game or furniture that responds to the identified problem. This instance was carried out individually by each team member.

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DESIGN PROCESS

Before arriving at the final design, I generated three alternative paths to follow. In all cases, it was a piece of furniture that evolves its function together with the user, from child to adolescent/adult.

INDIVIDUAL DESIGN

The second use as the axis I chose to respond to the circular economy, the device that I design changes its function to adapt to the needs of the user at different stages of his life. It is a chair-table combination in the first instance (for a child from 3 to 7 years old) and, in the second instance, a night table.

The material used would be birch plywood, reaching its shape by cutting with a panel saw and CNC cutting, with dowels and screws as inputs for the joints; I created a 3D model of the design in Rhinoceros 3D, plus I made a 1:5 scale prototype model in MDF in the woodshop.

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FIRST INSTANCE

In the first scenario, I look for a situation of use where a child's imagination and creativity can be stimulated, being able to use the chair and table as a space to draw, write, do homework, etc.; the drawer allows you to keep all the objects necessary to carry out these activities.

CHANGE

SECOND INSTANCE

To change the function, the user only has to insert the chair from the back of the table, where they will find a cut that fits with the grip depth of the seat.

For the second instance, the function of the furniture becomes storage space; due to the dimensions of the product, it was thought to function as a nightstand. The chair works as shelves, while the drawer maintains its function.

Most of the children's furniture that is currently on the market is made to meet their expectations for a limited period of a person's life, so these products become waste faster than other furniture. Therefore, I consider it important to make a change to the design of the children's area.

Regarding the process of this project, I would like to highlight that despite being of an individual nature, throughout the development of my product I received suggestions and possible fixes from my teammates and colleagues outside the group, and all the contributions that received were taken into account until reaching the final product.

2
Final design

For the last step, we arrived to a furniture design that responds to the circular economy and the problems raised, encouraging the user through the establishment of an emotional bond developed while growing and using the product.

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DESIGN PROCESS

Based on the three products generated in the previous step by each team member, we took different aspects of each one to generate a new design proposal.

FINAL DESIGN: BENI

Beni is an evolutionary children's furniture that begins as a rocking chair (for children between 2 and 5 years old) and becomes a table chair (for children up to 8 years old); the second use to extend the useful life is the axis that follows within the circular economy. 

In the first position, it is used as a rocking chair for small children, since the rocking action is entertaining for them, in addition to generating a hormone called oxytocin, which, when synthesized, generates happiness. The second position is used as a chair-table to create a space to stimulate creativity and imagination, where the child can learn to write, draw, etc.

It is made up of two duplicate modules, in birch plywood cut through CNC router cutting and the unions are through simple inserts; the finish is with a transparent water-based varnish. 

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GRIP

Grip close to the user's hands, indicating where to hold the rocking chair for security when rocking.

INSERTS

The inserts allow the assembly and disassembly of the product to be simple, without damaging the parts and without the need for additional tools.

SECURITY

The rounded edges of the product prevent accidents that could happen when the user handles or brushes the surface.

POSITIONS

For the first position (rocking chair), modules 2 are placed in parallel, while modules 1 are embedded perpendicularly in them. When changing to the second position (chair-table), it is not necessary to remove both parts of the chair, because one of the modules 1 that functions as a backrest in the rocking chair is maintained, the seat is removed and placed in the other available socket of module 2.

Module 1

Module 2

GENERAL DIMENSIONS

The anthropometric measurements of Uruguayan children between 3 and 8 years of age were taken into account to meet the ergonomic requirements of the furniture.

PROTOTYPE

Based on those raised, we made a prototype of Beni with the materials and real dimensions; Once done, it was tested with children between the ages of 5 and 7, where it was confirmed that it met the design requirements.

LIFE CYCLE

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4
Conclusions

IMPACT AND LEARNING

Based on what I learned during this subject, I was exposed to the different ways of applying a circular economy mindset to raise awareness of why bring a product to the world, in addition to learning ways through which the designer can be part of why the user keep the product for a long time.

IN THE FUTURE...

Although we finished the work as completely as possible, we found a problem with the chair-table position (thanks to the 1:1 prototype) where it is not stable, which would be solved with a new piece that fits perpendicular to the others, as shown in the following renders.

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