MAKE DO AND MEND: Rebar* Chairs of Cuba
What happens when a culture is divorced from design education?
What happens when restricted imports of raw materials and social, economic constraints are forced upon the society?
Cuba is a unique example of these times and social conditions when material scarcity and hardship have created a unique environment for creativity.
To cope in a time of relatively no seating and to find a way to relax and sit upon the front porch, they have embraced what they do have to hand and elevated the lowly rebar, the basic pig-iron rod used in vast quantities for concrete reinforcement, to the status of a primary furniture construction material. The result, with some skillful bending and welding, is a plethora of indestructible outdoor furniture. Found across the length and breadth of the country, in styles ranging from the Bauhaus knock-off to the positively baroque, the rebar-chair becomes a movement in itself as a testimony to the resilience of the Cuban culture and a signifier of nation’s desire to sit down and relax.
* Rebar – reinforcement bar used for reinforcing concrete structures.