Dezeen Magazine

Side table and dining chair with armrests from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo

Building material offcuts from affordable housing project used to create Tempo furniture collection

Mexican industrial design studio Jorge Diego Etienne has created a collection of "unpretentious" furniture for Techo – a non-profit that builds prefabricated housing for people living in slums across Latin America.

Comprising three chairs, a stool, bench, coffee and side table, the Tempo range is entirely made from wood offcuts that were created in the process of constructing these homes.

And ultimately, the pieces will be used to furnish the houses themselves as well as sold for profit, with proceeds going back into funding future Techo housing projects.

Stool and bench from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo
The Tempo collection includes a wooden stool and bench (above) as well as a side table and dining chair with armrests (top image)

With this in mind, the furniture is designed to act as a blank slate that lends itself to a number of uses, settings and adaptations.

The light pine wood that makes up the entire collection is left exposed, with its neutral tone fitting easily into different colour schemes.

Coffee table and dining chair from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo
A low, round side table accompanies a version of the dining chair without armrests

"Techo's workshop works primarily with pine, which has been commonly used for furniture in Mexico throughout history – from vernacular chairs to projects in rural workshops by [architect and designer] Oscar Hagerman and, of course, the great Luis Barragán," the studio's founder and namesake Jorge Diego Etienne told Dezeen.

"Pine is part of Mexican design history but it's overlooked in contemporary design," he added. "We took this as a challenge to explore how can we make pine contemporary through a simple and clear design."

The final pieces are created by Techo's own craftsmen, who have honed their carpentry skills over several decades of manufacturing prefab timber houses.

This expertise is allowed to take centre stage through the deliberately pared-back, "unpretentious aesthetic" of the furniture.

"In this collection, I relate luxury with the time spent by the craftsmen handmaking each piece, creating joints that showcase the experience they have developed working with wood over the years," said Etienne. "Time and pace are part of the concept, hence the name Tempo."

Two dining chairs from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo
The second dining chair (left) features inverted V-shaped legs and a reclined backrest

A classic four-legged dining chair is rendered with A-shaped legs and available with or without armrests, while a second dining chair features inverted, V-shaped legs and an elegantly reclined backrest.

The matching lounge chair follows this same visual language but is much lower and wider, with more inviting proportions.

Lounge chair from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo
The lounge chair is lower and wider than the others

A minimalist trestle-legged stool and side table can be used almost interchangeably and repurposed for different settings, while the long rectangular bench could serve as a storage surface much like the round, cross-frame coffee table.

"We like to create objects that are not too strictly defined. In the whole Tempo collection, simplicity was our goal," said Etienne.

Stool and bench from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo
A simple stool with trestle legs is scaled up into a bench

Since it was founded in 1997, Techo has constructed 115,000 houses across 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries, from Argentina and Haiti to Venezuela.

The aim is to offer the 20 per cent of the local population, who live in slums and informal settlements, a leg up out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

"A home means more than a house," the project states. "It means health, education, personal development, overcoming poverty and generating income, women's empowerment, security for families and the possibility of inspiring a community to overcome this situation together."

Dining chair with armrests from Jorge Diego Etienne's Tempo collection for Techo
The dining chair is also available with armrests

Another design practice to recently use reclaimed wood in a furniture collection is London's Viewport Studio, which created a series of tables from discarded timber offcuts.

Earlier this year, architecture practice Pad Studio used planks of wood sourced from an old barn as cladding for a home in the English countryside.