The learning environments in Malawi was poor despite the students’ passion for learning. Many towns don’t have enough educational infrastructure and materials for students regardless of their desire. How might we help the students in a sustainable way? Sugarcane Chair is a sustainable floor chair for the young Malawi students with easy usability and ergonomic value.
One day I had the chance to watch the TV program about the education in Malawi, Africa. Although the students don’t have enough schools and material to study, I was totally motivated by their passion for learning. I believe education is one of the most powerful tools to empower socially marginalized people.As a furniture designer, I started seeking the way that I can help the students.
Since Malawi has limited distribution infrastructure and material resources to build an ideal furniture, existing furniture materials such as plastics or metal didn’t fit their situations. Moreover, they need sustainable products to maintain the conditions without external support.
Based on the research, I set design principles to solve the issue.How might we help the students in sustainable, accessible, and useful ways?
I examined the students’ learning environment and researched other cases to meet the principles.
One of the findings is that the furniture should be light and foldable to clever use, and the floor chair in Asian countries could be a good fit for this context.
Floor chair is common in Asian countries, such as Korea and Japan because of the living lifestyle which is sitting on the floor. This type of seats doesn’t have legs, so the volume is small and easily stackable.
Regarding material, I found that sugarcane is one of the conventional rigid materials in Malawi. Sugarcane is stiff, cheap, and grows fast like bamboo.
Based on the insights, I sketched and made models to find the best posture, easy assembly, and foldability.
Sugarcane chair consists of sugarcane which is common material in Malawi. It is designed to help young students’ learning environment. Instead of sitting on the floor without back support, the sugarcane chair firmly supports back spine by assembling the stalks and leaves. Also, its short seat pan makes room for folded legs to reduce pain and help back spine. The seat pan is easily foldable, and the folded shape is stackable each other.