We are all familiar with heavy benches, placed randomly in urban areas, that it would often require at least four full grown men to move. Now, let’s have a look at how plastic is used to make seating for public spaces that is durable, easy to move around and that you can transform both in shape and colour. This article is part 2 in a series about modular design for public areas, within our February theme of ‘scalability and modular thinking’.
Playfurn – a design by HANS SANDGREN JAKOBSEN, produced by UNO Koncept
When the renowned Danish furniture designer Hans Sandgren Jakobsen designed his iconic stool, ‘Apple’, back in 2003, he didn’t imagine that it would lay the groundwork for urban furniture more than ten years later. Playfurn is designed in co-operation with the Danish company UNO Koncept, which designs urban areas. The company gave Hans Sandgren Jakobsen the task of creating modular furniture that it could use when designing playgrounds and public areas used for both activities and relaxation.
The designer himself elaborates about the seating furniture: “The basic principle of the furniture stems from the Apple stool, which I started designing back in 2003. The Apple stool was made out of wood, but when designing Playfurn we took the form of the stool and transformed it into plastic dots. From there we created plastic modules in different shapes, so that the furniture could easily be assembled into multiple formations.”
Playfurn can be used as classical lounge furniture both indoors and outdoors. And because of its durable surface, it can also be used for play and sports training and is appropriate for the Scandinavian weather.
“It was important to find the perfect material, and we chose a special plastic that is durable. To make it non-slippery and give it a matte finish, we bead-blasted the aluminium moulds that the plastic is formed around. To break with the matte feel and to underline the modular design, we added these smooth lines around the modules,” says Hans Sandgren Jakobsen.
Playfurn is being produced in Denmark, due to the country’s good manufacturing facilities and to minimise the cost of transportation to the local projects.
MOOVE BENCH – a design by Lars Vejen, produced by Veksø
The name really says it all here. MOOVE BENCH is made to be moved around, to be stacked, and in general to be played around with by the user.
The designer of MOOVE, Lars Vejen, elaborates on the many ways in which the design can be used: “MOOVE is designed for a wide variety of situations. It is a classical bench, conceived to be used in urban spaces or parks by grownups, as playful furniture by kids, as loungers at the beach by young people, or as unique colourful or sculptural indoor furniture in places like foyers or airports. The design is therefore a balance between super-classical and playful, which will appeal to a wide range of users from all age groups and with different needs.”
A round plastic bench might seem simple and not very transformable, but the modular aspect lies not in a transformation of the product, but in the way the benches are easy to stack and move around, and in the various ways they can be combined within the surroundings.
“The round shape in itself makes the bench simple and strong. By rearranging multiple benches, both the form and the carefully chosen colours take part in a transformational and colourful interaction. MOOVE is also intended as flexible furniture for cultural events like concerts and festivals, and therefore has to be moved around and stored, which is why it is designed to be stable,” says Lars Vejen.
The furniture is produced by Veskø, which normally works with steel and wood. The company wanted Lars Vejen to design something completely new in terms of form, function and material. But why choose plastic?
“I became fascinated by a certain kind of plastic that is high quality and reusable. This idea turned into MOOVE, which, despite its basic circular shape, is designed with an ‘L’ form that makes it possible to use the bench in different ways and makes the bench easy to stack. When designing furniture for outdoor use, there is automatically a requirement for the material to be durable in the particular climate. Therefore, I have taken into account that form and function go hand in hand. It had to be simple and intuitive to use, easy to clean, water should run away from the sitting surface, and, not least, the form and the chosen colours of MOOVE should harmonise with the natural environment and urban areas that it is placed in,” says Lars Vejen.
MOOVE has become a favourite in the Veksø furniture family, where it is called ‘the furniture of multiple possibilities’.