In the course of his diploma work, Jan Borghoff developed a piece of seating furniture for tea houses in Bangladesh. The tea huts on the streets of Bangladesh are mostly made of wooden slats, bamboo sticks and corrugated iron as protection from the rain. The biggest problem of the tea stand is the seating. Typically in Bangladesh, the people sit on floor mats. It was only in the course of globalization that tables and chairs were first introduced, but these are still reserved for the higher societal classes and are used as status symbols. European seating is therefore rare in the wider Bangladeshi community. Due to the fact that most tea stands are found on the sides of the streets on unpaved soil, it is often unfavorable to sit on the ground due to heavy rainfall over the year. Simple benches are often used for seating. As these benches are expensive purchases for the owner, many stands only have one bench. The furniture must accommodate as many people to sit as possible at a reasonable manufacturing price, and should be variable in size to meet various requirements. This includes the weather conditions of the country such as heavy rainfall, extremely high temperatures, UV exposure and humidity. In order to support the local economy,materials and production should be guaranteed to remain in the home country, and the natural resources used must be renewable rather than snatched. They must be repairable and sustainable, so that used parts can be recycled and replaced.
The seating comprises of a main table and six small table modules. The parallel bamboo poles of around 8cm in diameter, connect the individual modules and form seating surfaces. A simple splint secures the rod in the modules. The connected modules also limit the tea stand area. The seats of the two parallel bamboo poles makes for anatomically comfortable sitting, so that the stools fit in the designated gap between the two bamboo rods. The material properties of bamboo combine extreme hardness with great compressive and tensile strength, high elasticity, and lightness in weight. Bamboo poles are also flame retardant due to the outer layers with high silicate content. These properties allow rainwater to deflect, and the surface to dry quickly. In comparison to conventional benches with horizontal seats, water will not collect as easily. Bamboo is used as construction material in Bangladesh, making it available throughout the country. This allows a bamboo pole to be replaced quickly when damaged. The table, as well as the smaller modules, are made of panels. The financial framework is manageable and variable, as the type of wood can be chosen, upholding their exclusivity. Most domestic woods have a natural protection against weathering, for instance, teak and mahogany are well-known examples. Due to their ecological compatibility, and the discussion about the excessive deforestation and export of teak, neem is recommended for use. Neem wood has the advantage of rapid growth, and is enriched with azadirachtin, a natural insecticide. The end-grain wood is further protected against weathering with a personalized color accent, promoting the recognition of the tea stand. The lower third of each module is painted to ensure the protection of the wood. The top two-thirds remain free to provide a surface for individual design, allowing for cultural adaptation. The typically hand painted houses and shops, as well as rickshaws and trucks can be traced back to the significance of of the source of income for a whole family. The color scheme is mostly characterized by bright, strong colors. There are two choices for the surface of the main table. The basic version consists of a mosaic-like arrangement of tile fragments. These are grouted to a homogenous surface and thus support the underlying wood from moisture during the preparation of the tea. Alternatively, a brass sheet surface can be offered for a quieter aesthetic. The brass sheet can also be used for the smaller modules. The design refers to the traditional window and wall paintings of the Indian subcontinent. geometric shapes such as diamonds, rectangles and hexagons are often found in the wall paintings and architektonic construction styles in India. The large table is hexagonal and can accommodate the smaller triangular modules inside, through the removable tabletop. This saves storage space and makes securing for the night easier. As the tea stand is only temporary, nesting into one another is a particularly compact possibility. The setup only takes a few minutes and can be handled by one person. The main table is for preparing the tea. Here, the hot water is poured through different sieves and divided into different glasses. The main table has two levels. The lower serves as storage for ingredients and utensils used for the preparation of the tea. When packed together, the second level protects the smaller modules from weathering and are stored in a secure and dry manner. A basic feature from the start of this project is its ecological compatibility and sustainability of the furniture, as well as their production and use. The production of a series of seating will begin on the coming year, in cooperation with a Bengali non-governmental organization (NGO). Above all, it should help people without an income to create one in order to earn their living. Since it is a modular seating system, it also possible to start with the standard version consisting of a large table and three small table modules. If required, the owner of the tea stand has the option to expand. The production is to take place in an affiliated joinery in Borobillerpar, in the hope to enable young people who train there to make their first steps toward a self-determined life.
M. Minale, K. Wahl