Originating from reflections on the spatial and social circumstances of basic care provisions for refugees, Austrian design agency EOOS conceived an open source handbook for the construction of Social Furniture. Easy-to-make, well-designed furniture for communal spaces that stimulate contact and cooperation.

Vienna based design agency EOOS, founded in 1995 by Martin Bergmann, Gernot Bohmann, and Harald Gruendl, developed a concept for the adaptation of a former training facility for custom officers close to the city centre turned into long-term accommodation to 600 asylum seekers that lacked communal spaces, shared kitchens and meeting zones. EOOS created custom-designed furniture, which was built together with the residents in an in-house workshop.

In the context of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 the designers decided to make the Social Furniture designs available for everybody who want to create collective spaces of action with functional and well-designed furniture but have little money or specialist knowledge in furniture construction. Hence the Social Furniture Handbook was made, now freely available for non-commercial use from the internet at www.eoos.com.

18 furniture designs

The catalogue contains 18 furniture elements designed to support community life in basic care quarters while facilitating new forms of common welfare work in a workshop or small shops at the same time. The designs, to be made from wood with the use of nothing more than a circular saw and a power drill, include furniture for living, cooking, and working together.

The designers state that ‘the objective of Social Furniture is to sketch out prototypes for alternative models of how we live and work together in the future.’  The designers further say that they hope the furniture will also enthuse many people outside of refugee aid projects, and ask people to upload images of their Social Furniture on Instagram using the hashtag #SOCIALFURNITURE. Until now, this call didn’t yield many photo’s yet, but it is quite conceivable this will change soon.

Top image: Social Furniture in use / photo Paul Kranzler