© Agnieszka Kula
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Circula, by Polish designer Tomek Rygalik, is a bench created to offer a symbolic and functional space for dialogue and encourage direct social interactions.
Originally commissioned to encourage social interaction among children in schools, Circula has become a design for the whole community and a profound statement of values: responsibility, ethics, sustainability, and human-centered approach in design.
ECO Solidarity, the program promoted by Studio Rygalik in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute of New York, is based on these values and it led to the development of the Circula project.
If Circula’s main aim is to encourage dialogue and relationships - what better form could it take than a circle? A perfect geometric figure, with neither beginning nor end. A universal symbol of balance and harmony that naturally brings people together. The circle cancels out all hierarchies and divisions. Sitting in a circle allows us to look everyone in the eye, to better express ourselves and get to know each other. It makes us more open to others and supports inclusivity. It encourages sharing and stimulates the creative flow. This also makes Circula an ideal place for informal meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Round in name and form.
Round in name and form, Circula is the stylistic and conceptual synthesis of the circularity of design. Made from sustainable, durable materials, the Circula bench is designed to recover, reintegrate, and stand the test of time. The three different versions are made of spruce or pine wood, recycled plastic, and phosphate steel. The wood is sourced from responsibly-managed, FSC- or PEFC-certified forests. The plastic is made 100% from recycled packaging and was developed in collaboration with Boomplastic - a creative studio dedicated to plastic recycling. The visual and tactile result of this version is the beauty of waste material: the recycled plastic remains partially transparent to highlight the coarse and colorful fragments suspended within it.
There is a notable ethical aspect to the design. The concept of circularity is extended into the social sphere. For each piece purchased, another is donated by the company to a company, association, or foundation that requests one for social or charitable purposes. And if the buyer is no longer interested in the bench, the company itself will take it back and return it to “circulation” through its own network. To keep standing together with respect for the environment.
But it doesn’t stop there - the project continues with unique ethical developments.
The complexity of a circle
The Circula bench is made of three interlocking modules, held together by an integrated, hidden locking mechanism. The seat rests on three legs, which can be anchored to the ground if necessary. These three supports guarantee complete stability, including on uneven surfaces.
Currently, Circula is available in a standard size - 1900 mm in diameter - with seating capacities ranging from 2 to 6 people. In addition to a wide range of colors and materials, Circula also offers exclusive customization.
Tomek Rygalik’s Circula bench was included in the WE ARE NATURE exhibition, part of “Ro Guiltlessplastic 2020”, the international project curated by Rossana Orlandi held at the Leonardo Da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy, from September 24 to October 4, 2020.