Interview with designer Hello Wood (HW), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Fluid Cube and Snake Smart Furniture.

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Interview with Hello Wood at Thursday 30th of April 2020: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
HW : When designing this outdoor furniture family, we had to reimagine the genre of public furniture so we turned them into visually attractive and functional installations, powered by renewable energy. The lines were inspired by nature. In consideration of their outdoor placement and desired lifecycle, the structures were built of larch, a highly durable wood type that takes on a natural grey patina with time. The expansion joints that prevent the cracking of the wood also play role in shaping the character.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
HW : The focus was to create a public structure which has high aesthetic quality and practical function as well. During the research process, we studied the existing solar outdoor furniture designs. It had to fit into the following criterias: had to be ergonomic, adaptable to all kinds of public spaces, had to be made of renewable resources and while being able to withstand public use, had to be easy to manufacture, transport, install, had to radiate an intimate, organic feel and openness.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
HW : The 4 pieces of outdoor furniture (2 of each design) were distributed in the frame of a tender by the client. The jury selected the winners based on complex system of criteria, including the characteristics of the site, the number and means of students, and the creativity of the individual bids. We hope that this kind of good example will spread and more and more company will consider it important to carry out high quality, socially engaged projects.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
HW : The outdoor furniture designs were commissioned by MVM Hungarian Electricity Private Limited Company (MVM). MVM decided about the distribution of the pieces by way of a tender open to educational institutions. The call received close to 600 bids.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
HW : We believe that a socially responsive attitude and the utilization of the material constraints in an innovative way, is crucial for sustainable design. All of our projects are centered around social responsibility, life cycle design and the relations between community and architecture.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
HW : Our target customer is every citizen who is looking for a cool spot to sit / recharge in a public space.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
HW : When designing this project, we searched for other examples of solar public furniture and there are few. We combined seamlessly the functions of public furniture (comfortable seat, gathering point) and integrated a smart solution (the solar panels) so we created visually engaging and innovative objects.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
HW : The cool lines of the Fluid Cube and the City Snake were inspired by nature, so did the names of them.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
HW : We combined the public function, unique design and smart solution into one.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
HW : The integrated USB sockets, WiFi hotspot, and lighting are all powered by the shock resistant solar panels developed by our long time collaborator, the Hungarian brand Platio.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
HW : The technology helps citizens to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure. Passersby can recharge their phones or tablets with the solar powered USBs while recharging themselves, as well, by chilling on the furniture.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
HW : The biggest challenge in designing public furniture is to create an aesthetically pleasing object which is also vandal proof, withstands everyday use in the middle of a public space and attracts users. That is why we used massive, durable larch beams and planks, combining functionality and design. We also had to comply with several technical and safety standards. During production we had to figure out how to fit the big pieces of wooden planks in the CNC machine in one piece.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
HW : We believe that the purpose of exciting and innovative design is to turn articles of everyday use into loveable objects - and hoped the rest of the world thinks it so!