2016 VMODERN Furniture Design Competition
Anthony Iwaz, Joseph Sciascia, Joey Doherty
The future of furniture design is creating products that becomes one with its surrounding.
Presently, furniture is designed for anthropogenic purposes omitting its possibilities to welcome all forms of biology. Inspired by the structures created by superorganisms, the Concrete Pod was designed not only as a visual element but an entity that integrates into its space and adapts to its environment. Bold yet visually enticing, this piece is composed of concrete and presented as an outdoor seating. It is a study that questions the structural elements of furniture and challenges its integration with its environment.
We found the underground structures created by fire ant colonies to be the most interesting as they can span for miles on end, continuously intertwining and connecting multiple social organisms. Supported by its own shear weight, these immense underground communities are the end result of a superorganism that has physically adapted the environment to facilitate its basic needs. The Concrete Pod is not only conceived for the purpose of human use but also to accept and allow the adaption of its local biota. This adaption allows for a dynamic aesthetic that changes with its climate and season.
We were able to create such an organic form with the help of a 3D platform called Grasshopper. An algorithm was created to develop the composition in a controlled manner. Constantly manipulating the algorithm, we found a design that closely mimicked the colonies created by these super-organisms; a complex system of pathways and self-organized structures.
We conducted several material studies and concluded that this furniture piece would need to be cast in a mold. Concrete would be our best option due to its manipulability, durability and high compressive strength. More specifically, we wanted to control the structure of concrete; a material that has been used in the industry and sought out to be an “in-organic” material and turn it into something organic.
A negative version of the 3d model was manually carved out of an array of stacked foam-core sheets, then shaped with a modeling compound and poured with concrete. Learning from the results of our first prototypes, the modeling compound allowed us to create smoother surfaces adding to the aesthetic of the Concrete Pod.
Returning to the significance of superorganism structures and its embodiment with nature; the Concrete Pod invites biota becoming one with its surroundings.