Insomnia Design

  • If industrial design for interiors with a middle-class target has to communicate coziness and comfort to the users, it seems like just walking outside the door changes the rules of perception — public space apparently has to aim for a sleepless panorama and many are the elements made to contribute, from small disturbing clusters to urban furniture specifically designed to avoid the homeless (or anybody else) to lie on it.

    While the task to design some user-unfriendly benches is often committed by some municipality or urban authority, many standalone offices and design practices are working on alternative models and autonomous urban scouts are denouncing the practice, presenting themed photographs, short documentaries and/or design alternatives.

    Shall we charge the designer for these uncomfortable elements, these cruel site-specific interventions in public space? Well, if we are talking about benches and similar elements of urban furniture, maybe we should, as also Léopold Lambert claims in his recent post on The Funambulist. But what about these clusters inserted on plain surfaces that were not initially thought to give a sit to anybody? A research conducted some time ago in Paris aimed to produce an extremely rich photographic documentation of the phenomenon.

    “This ordered violence, indifferent to the sufferings of others is a quiet and paradoxical response to the ultimate precariousness, by improving only the quality of life of Parisian disturbed by misery of France. Actually, these initiatives (collective, private, public), take part only in the degradation of the human relations, and the triumph of individualism.”

    Photo: Survival Group (Flickr)