What do teak, melina and pochote have in common? All are trees grown in forest plantations in Costa Rica, and all were chosen as woods designers are allowed to use to create furniture for the first Costa Rican Furniture Design Biennial, sponsored by VeritasUniversity’s School of Product Design.
The competition is open to anyone as long as the furniture submitted is built in an environmentally friendly way, out of native wood from forest plantations, and can be feasibly produced industrially. University students and product and industrial designers are encouraged to participate.
Oscar Pamio, dean of the School of Product Design at VeritasUniversity, in the southeastern San José district of Zapote, expects the event to stimulate competition and help advance the development of the country’s furniture industry. He also hopes it will promote creativity and innovation through design.
“We want to offer designers and furniture producers a space where they can exchange ideas, show their work and discover what others are doing,” Pamio said. “We hope it will also create professional relationships among those participating.”
Legions of Tico furniture makers traditionally use wood as their main resource.
According to Pamio, the biennial was organized to demonstrate that quality furniture can be created without the use of wood from natural forests, and that the added value can come from design.
Staying in line with tradition, the competition promotes the use of wood; however, it has to be plantation wood.
“Costa Rica has many hectares planted with different species of wood, such as melina, teak, pochote and others. It would be a shame to use this wood only for export. In this country there are many people capable of increasing the value of plantation wood by creating quality furniture,” Pamio said.
Architect, designer and sculptor Andrés Cañas, 33,will be participating in the contest.
“The competition is an excellent way to let the general public learn about the economic potential of a well-designed product,” he said.
This is not the first time Cañas will be participating in a competition of this nature. In 2004, he won first place in a similar Veritas competition for a lavatory he made out of melina wood, aluminum and granite.
“It took one week to make, taking design and construction into consideration,” Cañas said. “It is essentially a lavatory, but it has other uses. For instance, it has a towel rack, a cup holder and a drawer.”
For the upcoming biennial, the designer said he is working on two pieces, a bookshelf and “a surprise.”
One of the main objectives of the biennial is to facilitate the spread of design culture.
Recognizing the importance of the competition, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports declared it an event of cultural interest.
The biennial will have a jury made up of professionals from the furniture and design industries. Some of the aspects they will take into account are originality, form, space, ergonomics and feasibility of mass production.
The competition will award first-, secondand third-place prizes. The official prizes have not yet been announced; however, the winning furniture piece will get to participate in next year’s Movelsul Brasil, one of the most important furniture shows in Latin America.
Pamio encourages anyone with a good idea and an interest in design to participate in the biennial.
“Furniture design is an expression of day to-day culture,” he said.
How to Participate
Entries for VeritasUniversity’s Costa Rican Furniture Design Biennial must be submitted April 24 and 25 at the school in Zapote. No prior registration is required; designers can just show up with an original piece of furniture. All pieces will be exhibited April 30, and winners will be announced May 8.
For more details, visit Veritas’ Web site at www.uveritas.ac.cr or call 2283-4747, extension 640.