Sonia Lui—a 24-year-old ArtCenter College of Design student, and fellow at the Martin Architecture and Design Workshop Foundation (Madworkshop)—recently collaborated with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles for an installation that aims to incite more interaction and connection in an insular, social media-obsessed world. Lui recently unveiled Sanke, Madworkshop’s first public exhibition on the plaza at MOCA Grand in June.
Billed as an artful, multilayered outdoor communal seating system, Lui’s Sanke project features a connected mass of outdoor tables and seating in different shapes and heights. The project’s warm design and weather-resistant materials in a vibrant palette of natural wood finishes and glossy hues arouse a unique sense of togetherness. A close attention to proximity and space throughout the 12-seat design encourages spontaneous conversation and relaxed eye contact, while still allowing for privacy, if desired.
“This innovative approach changes the way we interact in a communal space,” says Co-Founder of Madworkshop, David Martin, FAIA. “In a smartphone culture trending toward human isolation, the Sanke design promotes human connection without forcing the issue.”
Lui’s project was born from a recent course at her school, entitled “Re-Defining Public Furniture and Fixtures.” Her interactions and research showed that connecting different components of a singular structure would allow individuals to more easily connect with each other.
“I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels awkward and lonely when dining alone,” Lui says. “I want to feel accompanied. This is furniture that gathers people together and creates the possibility for people to interact.”
Sanke debuted June 2, 2016 and is currently on display at MOCA Grand. Madworkshop plans to mass-produce the system.