This summer, two friends in Vancouver came to us with the challenge of designing modular patio furniture for their balcony. The premise was that they needed to contain a privacy/windscreens and planter/storage/seating boxes. Since the screens had to be free standing, the boxes would act as a stabilizer from the windy and rainy Pacific Northwest.
We began with researching existing products to see common techniques, materials and finishes used. It became very apparent there wasn't much in the way of diversity for patio furniture; let alone a set that is multifunctional and modular.
We came up with a simple configurable trapezoidal design with short and long screens. The trapezoids allow for a smooth transition around corners as well as straight orientations. We used facets throughout the set as a unifying visual element.
There are multiple setups available with the short and long screens. The screens, once secured, are perfect for leaning against. One to three short screens can be configured on the long edge of a box. Since the boxes can also be used a planter, two screens can frame a larger plant. As demonstrated with a fallen branch on the property and our prototype.
As for the materials, cedar was chosen for its resistance to rot. As per request, we used the shou sugi ban technique to finish the piece with a deep rich color. Since we chose to go for a lighter char for functional, the rich amber of cedar grain was able to come through for a unique look unachievable with a traditional stain.
After stocking the shop with cedar, the project ran rather quickly with minimal scrap. One major lesson we have learned through this project is that we may out grow our shop sooner than we thought! We should have photos soon of the entire set in situ, so look forward to that in the near future.
A big thanks to Tracy and Jay for giving us this opportunity to delve into the world of outdoor furniture.