Tomek Rygalik Shares the Circula Bench Designed for Social Interaction

10.12.21 | By
Tomek Rygalik Shares the Circula Bench Designed for Social Interaction

Circula is an experimental project by Polish designer Tomek Rygalik developed within Design Nature, offering a tool for togetherness with the focus on sustainability. “Humans are social creatures,” says Rygalik. “Human beings are not intended to be a solitary species: we are social animals. Today everyone’s talking about distancing – but there will come a moment dedicated to recovery from all of this, both physically and relationally.” Coming (slowly) out of a time when social interactions were a no-no, Circula encourages it within its circular shape. The ringed bench acts as a functional space for dialogue to begin after such isolating times. The round shape is intentional for the way it requires people to sit for conversation. It also stands for the circularity of the design, as Circula is made from durable, sustainable materials, including responsibly-managed FSC-or PEFC-certified wood, plastic made from 100% recycled packaging, and phosphate steel. In this month’s Deconstruction, Tomek Rygalik gives insight into the design process of making Circula.

simple sketch of four people sitting on ring bench

The initial concept sketch showing the tool for togetherness in essence.

metal ring bench mockup in grass

These are visuals of the first 1:1 model testing scale, sitting proximity and ergonomics.

metal ring bench in grass

metal ring bench in shop

design drawing of circular bench

Inside out design of the wood construction and its assembly.

design drawing of circular bench

woodsy mountain setting with trees and hollowed out stump

Sourcing wood, a naturally renewable resource, from suppliers conducting responsible forest management and therefore FSC® or PEFC TM certified.

wood shop setting with design in progress clamped

In the shop, constructing molds for bend-lamination.

layered wooden ring during testing phase

We test bending different diameters and wood sections while optimizing bending techniques to desired diameter of about 200 cm.

CNC milling wood pieces

Preliminary CNC milling of parts.

two men moving section of wooden bench

Turning parts to the other side for milling.

closeup of wooden component of bench

Working on the development of the interlocking connection system.

curved wooden components being fit together during build

Snug-fitting the parts into continuous circle form.

fitting curved wooden components together in shop

two men working on a circular wood design in shop

section of curved wooden bench

Sanding the wood, testing assembly of components and last touches.

three people sitting together on circular wood bench in front of windows

Testing the construction and stability of Circula in use with a research group.

painted components of a wood bench

Protecting the surfaces with naturally pigmented oil.

red painted wood circular bench

Final assembly.

finished design of recycled plastic circular bench with designer in center

Photo: Agnieszka Kula

Circula was made in three versions, including this one made from recycled plastic.

closeup of recycle plastic bench

Closeup of recycle plastic version of Circula \\\ Photo: Agnieszka Kula

portrait of designer Tomek Rygalik

Designer Tomek Rygalik \\\ Photos: Monika Olszewska

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.