Amsterdam based designers Jair Straschnow and Gitte Nygaard approach public spaces through the wondrous curiosity of a child. Why be confined to rigid seating designs when you can swing? In their public installation Off-ground on view this summer at DAC, Danish Architecture Centre and at Carlsberg City in Copenhagen the duo present a new approach to communal seating that challenge convention and embrace the act of play.
The Off-ground installation shows a different approach to the way public space is perceived and used, basing the design on a true and banal need, but implementing a solution that is functional and playful. We took the opportunity of a residency period in the Danish Art Workshops during spring 2013, to try and come up with a project that aims to fill what is so obviously missing from our public space. In short, Off-ground is a sophisticated look at playful elements. Each seating element can be easily shifted between a low seat, a hammock and a swing, and change according to the user’s needs. Hanging, floating, swinging, laying- one size fits all. Sustainability is always integrated in our way thinking and designing, in this case using rejected fire-hoses as raw material for the seats.
Working assumption #1: Seating facilities in public areas sum up to rigid benches, where comfort is not often a priority (and in most cases the opposite is the case). There are no alternative ways of sitting even in leisure areas and parks, where we’d rather relax and sit more comfortably.
Working assumption #2: Play is free, is in fact freedom. Play is essential to our well- being. Play is mainly associated with children, playing elements in public space, if provided, are always scaled down to kids’ size.
Working assumption #3: Placing things in the public realm is the most democratic incarnation of design: it’s free and accessible for all. This is where we as designers want to operate – this is where real difference can be made.
Featured image: Adjustable seating-elements which can accommodate a whole range of relaxed loafing- sitting, floating, swinging or laying down.
All images courtesy of Jair Straschnow and Gitte Nygaard