Based on a long-term research on the topic of proxemics and distance and inspired by traditional as well as modern New York benches to be found in the Central Park for example, a new series of Modified Social Benches emerged.
Their design borrows their basic form from ubiquitous park or garden benches, but is altered to various degrees to make the act of sitting a conscious physical process. Thus, the benches question the spatial separations in social situations and challenge the amount of space that people feel necessary to set between themselves and others. Distance between people is a kind of non-verbal communication that underlies cultural and social imprints and varies depending on the context. There’s less distance in personal situations among close family and a greater distance in public space where strangers surround us.
The Modified Social Benches NY are intended to break with those behavioural patterns in public space, since even contact-avoiding people allow bodily closeness in limited space. With its modifications, the benches transform its surroundings into places of social activity and foster dialogue between the users and the passers-by.
Materials: Powder-coated aluminium
Dimensions: 16 benches, dimensions variable
Jeppe Hein: Please Touch the Art, Public Art Fund at Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, USA, 2015-2016
Festival of Love, Modified Social Benches NY, Southbank Centre, Festival Terrace & Queens Walk, London, UK, 2016