The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected conventional modes of interaction between families, friends, and colleagues. While social distancing has created more physical separation between us, this project challenges the notion that being socially distant is synonymous with isolation. Seat-Saw is an interactive furniture piece designed to keep participants safely distanced as they rock, lounge, and socialize. As movements are translated from one user to the other, the simple act of sitting becomes a dynamic, engaging, and playful activity.
Designed as part of a campus-wide initiative to activate the public spaces at Cornell University, this project proposes new ways of safely gathering, connecting, and socializing. Intended to be occupied in two ways, Seat-Saw is designed with seating on each end, distanced six feet apart for two users, and a single top surface for an individual to lounge on. The seat itself becomes a unit of measure and reference for being safely distanced. Since installing the pieces on the Arts Quad, they have radically transformed how the space is used, becoming sites for holding seminars, doing homework, napping, eating, Instagramming and more.
With a limited budget and a sense of urgency to deploy the furniture for the start of the fall semester, the design of Seat-Saw underwent a series of rapid iterations in an effort to minimize material costs and fabrication time. Two CNC milled plywood sheets form the outer faces and seating surfaces, which are then connected through a series of internal 2x6 studs. The milled patterns on the outer faces create a sense of movement, an effect which is amplified as users rock back and forth.