I was a part of an interdisciplinary design team that designed, fabricated, and installed an interactive seating area at SOFA Chicago 2016. Titled "Domocracy", our installation represented the importance of freedom of speech on the UC Davis campus, and encouraged guests to engage in their own form of discourse on the show floor.
The intent of “Domocracy” was to tell a unified and cohesive story through the materials, design, and interaction with our audience. Our vision was not just a passive seating area, but one that allowed for the audience to interact and change the environment by talking or sitting.
Our process began with the wooden structural framework inspired by flat-pack construction methods and Japanese joinery, techniques that involves interlocking materials together to maximize stability and material-efficiency. Our earliest cardboard models developed into rapid prototypes on the CNC mill. Many of our early models included individually designed seats attempting to stimulate various points of repose and posture.
The original idea was for the seating itself to stimulate discourse within the space, but we felt that was ineffective and began to look too cluttered. We felt this design did not create a cohesive, unified seating area and instead redesigned the seating into a singular, adaptable profile. Each profile of the seating arrangement is attached to its counterparts with an arc, a track that forms a 20-foot circle holding a profile every 20 degrees. The track is then locked into place by both vertical and horizontal stabilizing pieces that slide into place. Both the track and stabilizing pieces are made of plywood.
Our installation, made of fiberglass poles, plywood and wrapped in fabric, the dome creates a “soft space”. The stretched semi-translucent fabric allows the light to play up into the dome structure, as we attempt stimulate conversation. The plywood base provides a sturdy foundation, while the fiberglass rods extend upwards and create tension for the fabric to be fastened.
“Domocracy” incorporates responsive lighting integrated in the wooden frame seating and is manipulated by the audio data that is recorded by the live microphone hanging within the structure. This allows for the lighting to change intensity based on the audio levels within the space.
We installed "Domocracy" at SOFA Chicago on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. The exhibition ran from November 3 – 6. Included are photos of the installation process, and the final exhibit.