we make great
chat-friendly benches

If benches are, by definition, for use by more than one person……………. then why on earth are they all straight?

We appreciate that there is a place for the traditional “public” bench – they are always straight, a bit visually unexciting and often not actually that comfy but people choosing a memorial bench for their loved one in the park normally go for the oak ones so they obviously hold a special place in the public’s heart.

Our proposition, however, is that some benches in some key hub locations should be different:

  • Our benches are designed in messy art workshops with local community groups so the benches fulfil their needs- this also encourages people to feel ownership of the finished bench.
  • They are then hand-made by me with a locally-tailor-made galvanised steel sub-frame (cos it breaks my heart to see all the legs rotting off all the benches in all the parks just because councils don’t add metal feet!)
  • English oak is used for the slats for the seat and back- the slat design means the wood can quickly air-dry after it rains (so that the wood lasts for decades!) while it also simplifies and minimises maintenance.
  • We only use English oak (quercus robur) as it outlasts all other native sustainable timbers (how old is the door on your local church?) and our oak is needs-must felled locally by the volunteers of the fantastic Greenways Countryside Project (no transporting timber half-way around the world for us!).  We did experiment excitedly with recycled plastic but it not only lacks rigidity as a material (it soon sags under its own weight) but it is also, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (https://www.reuters.com/article/climatechange-forests-furniture-idUKL8N1A63B3), much less eco-friendly than sustainable timber like ours.

And when installed:

  • The unique, original designs of our benches draw people to sit on them.
  • Our trademark curviness means people sit aligned in a way that encourages…. but doesn’t force…. conversation.
  • People linger longer out of doors in a convivial, community-friendly space that is free-to-use and democratic……. helping to turn a hub into a hubbub……. with all the wellbeing gains that brings.

So, can someone please tell me: why on earth are all the other benches straight?

A few of the Bench Projects in the pipeline:

    1. Snape Maltings (BPA and Suffolk Craft Society) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the SCS and the completion of the Maltings new flood defences (2022)
    2. Langer Park, Felixstowe for East Suffolk County Council as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (June 2022)
    3. Holywells Park, Ipswich- collaboration with Friends of Holywells Park, Ipswich Wildlife Group and Cliff Lane Primary School, kindly funded by the Ropes Trust (autumn 2022)
    4. St Peter’s Church, Ipswich, funded by the Ipswich Oasis Project (April/May 2022)
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