One day Shujie, an alumna of Tsinghua University, asked me if we could design the interior space for their community store. Shujie and I were two grades apart. She was an outstanding student at Tsinghua University. After graduation, she went to New York University to study public administration. After returning to China, she seemed to be engaged in multinational corporate strategy. How could she suddenly open a 'community store'?
I'm curious about that, so I made an appointment to meet her in Chengdu. A few months later, Shujie came to Buzhichun Teahouse in Chengdu. We two old friends talked for a whole day, and I learned that she is now doing charity work, which is called 'BUY42 Charity Store'. It is a purely public charity organization, whose purpose is to collect unused goods from enterprises and individuals, and sell them to people in the community. The money is used to hire shop assistants, half of whom are disabled, and organize community activities, with more than 100 events organized in Shanghai within a year, and the extra money will be donated to the community public welfare fund.
BUY42 now has 14 stores in Shanghai and is just about to open in Chengdu. I always admire those who are sincere in doing public welfare work, and I am also willing to do some design work for public welfare and poverty alleviation. Since its establishment, Studio Dali Architect would provide 1 or 2 public welfare design services every year. At that time, I decided to participate without any hesitation, to make the public welfare space more valuable through architectural design, so that more people would be willing to participate in the public welfare services.
I carefully studied the operation mode and space requirements of BUY42. BUY42 usually opens stores in the core space of each community to facilitate its service. The goods are mainly donated by enterprises, and there are also many individual donations from communities. Most goods are relatively small items such as clothing, electronic products, gifts, books and food. The store is basically a 'grocery store'. There are also occasional community activities in the store, such as doing crafts together, taking children to paint together, undertaking corporate charity activities and so on. Therefore, some flexible spaces with light and moveable furniture are needed. Most of the stores are located in the idle space provided by the community, which is basically rent-free. However, there is also a problem of high mobility, which may lead to sudden adjustment or relocation of the whole store due to changes in the community operation.
In terms of various aspects, we think about the design of this space. The fixed hardware should be as simple as possible, while the furniture and space layout should be flexible. Shelves, the main element of the space, should be flexible in order to adapt to different goods, and the layout can be easily changed. At the same time, the materials and construction should be light and flexible to facilitate its installation and future relocation. With this in mind, we decided to design an assembly-style furniture set consisting of simple components that can be assembled into furniture shelves of different scales, which can be used to divide the space, or can be disassembled at any time to facilitate re-stocking or re-partitioning of the space.
Traditional detachable furniture needs all kinds of hardware components and corresponding tools in addition to the plates. I wonder if we can only use a single material to complete the assembly work with only our hands. Inspired by Lego, we chose the 'splicing and inserting' method, the most simple and original construction method, which consists of two components: plates and nodes. Plates are used to divide the main body of the space, while nodes are used to connect plates.
The core concept of BUY42 is 'to make every item useful'. We also hope that our design can be as close to zero waste as possible, so we cut the nodes from the plate to reduce the weight of the whole and save material at the same time. The dimensions of the plates and nodes are also adjusted according to the original size of the whole plate, so as to minimize the waste of materials. After repeated testing, proofing and adjustment, we finally determined that the size of the plate material is 400mm, and the nodes are round shaped, so that each node can be inserted into plates of four directions. By controlling the tightness of the socket, the assembly is simple and the overall stability is also high. The finished shelf is partially placed on a polycarbonate board to solve the problem of overall stiffness.
最终呈现的家具样式简单、灵活，一个人用双手也可以轻松地安装和拆卸，我们找了一些志愿者帮忙前后一天就全部拼装完成了整个店铺的家具。最后，我们给这个设计起了一个名字，叫“connecting the dots”，意思是“把点和点连起来”，这个设计的拼插方式和节点的意向，也代表了善淘做公益的初衷，将社会上各种闲置的资源串接起来，形成新的架构，发挥新的价值。这个家具设计的过程衍生了一个专属手势，将两只手拼插起来，象征着“connecting the dots”，大家一起携手做公益！
The final furniture is so simple and flexible that can be easily installed and removed by one person with bare hands. All the furniture of the shop was assembled in one day with the help of some volunteers. Finally, we named the design 'connecting the dots'. The splicing method and node characteristics of this design represent the original intention of BUY42 to do public welfare: connecting all kinds of idle resources in society, forming a new structure, and developing new values. This process of designing led to a unique gesture, where two hands are connected, which is a symbol of 'connecting the dots' and means people working together on a common cause!
After the core concept of the design was determined, the following work was smoothly promoted. For the basic space of the store, after the original space was redesigned and the lighting was adjusted, we adopted the simplest treatment to spray all the walls white. And all the space division and the moving line are achieved by this movable furniture.
In addition to the shelves, several different sizes of tables, chairs, hangers, and bar counters are also designed as auxiliary elements of the space. The brand color of BUY42 is bright green, which was used at the entrance of the store as decoration. Each store has a special 'green space' for differentiation, and now the entrance of BUY42 is a necessary punch point for visitors and customers.
Interestingly, we designed a 'shopping bag' for BUY42. The concept of BUY42 is zero waste, so there are no shopping bags in its stores. It is recommended that people use their own or recycled shopping bags, so we designed a group of an adhesive label. As long as the recycled shopping bags are affixed with BUY42’s label, it represents the recognition of BUY42's concept. Wearing such a 'shopping bag', you can find fellow people in the street.
Now BUY42 has two stores in Chengdu, one in Tianfu Community Creation Center and the other in Shilidian. The public goods there are really cheap and high-quality. You can do good deeds while buying good things. In the future, there will be more stores in Chengdu, which will make the community more creative and dynamic. Welcome to experience. Finally, thank you to those who take concrete actions to make our society better.
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