A new take on public furniture, the U Rock is a fun way to experience outdoor life. Flip it over to match your mood and have fun while you do it!
The Battery Conservancy launched in 2012 the “America’s Design Competition – Draw up a Chair”, an international competition that called upon designers from the America’s and asked them to rethink the classic concept of public urban furniture.
The first word used to describe the design criteria of the new iconic Battery Park chair is moveable. In its most basic sense, it means people should be able to move it easily from one place to another. But that just seems too narrow, too boring. Why not create a chair that also moves without moving? A chair that gives you the option to sit still or just have some fun?
That is the concept of the “U Rock” Chair. It gives you the choice of sitting straight in a comfortable and beautiful chair or to rock it out in a fun, cool new take on the classic rocking chair. You just have to flip it over. Its design is friendly to all ages and being light, stackable and easy to carry around, it also contributes to many different social arrangements and situations. It can be serious or funny depending on your mood. Just like mullets, except awesome. The coolest part about it is that everybody can take a part on making them!
The basic idea behind the production of the “U Rock” Chair is using the parks own waste to transform its landscape. Using PET bottles, collected in specially identified containers, the visitors, tourists and daily users of the park would be directly responsible for their future seats, being able to connect with them through the design and recycling processes. This would create an emotional bond between “U Rock” and its users even before its production, increasing the feeling that the seats belong to everyone and decreasing possible acts of vandalism. It also sets an example to the many tourists that come and visit the Statue of Liberty and go through the Battery Park, showing them something different that could be applied in their own countries.
To increase the support and the resistance of the structure, the chair would also contain glass fiber in its composition. This addition significantly reduces the weight of the seat and the amount of pet bottles needed for each individual chair. The colors of the chair (red, orange and yellow) are meant to be provocative throughout the year, especially in the cold winter days, when the landscape is filled with greyer tones.
Everything was thought to enhance the pleasure of those at the park. At its core, the concept of the competition is a very contemporary take on the way we experience public spaces, where different users coexist in rich, colorful and peaceful fashion. “U Rock” compliments that way of thinking, generating a lasting emotional connection to its users, inviting them to come back, move round a bit and keep rocking at the Battery.
The concept of a moveable outdoor seat requires some extra attention. At the end of the day, employees of the Battery Park have to gather all the chairs and lock them until the next day. We thought that this would be a huge hassle and would also create a nearly useless structure, used to hold the chairs during nightime. Instead we developed some smaller pick-up stations, which we plan to distribute along the park. This way both visitors and employees have to walk a lot less te have access to the chair. The coolest part is that when vacant, they also serve as bicycle rack!
The U Rock Chair was one of Top 5 designs out of the 678 entrys, selected by a jury composed by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, Allison Arieff, Design Writer and Editor of The Urbanist, Fernando and Humberto Campana, aka The Campana Brothers, Rob Forbes, Founder of Design Within Reach; CEO of Public Bikes and Mario Schjetnan, Co-Founder & Director of Mario Schjetnan/Grupo de Diseño Urbano. This meant it’s prototype was displayed at the Battery Conservancy for three months running, being tested by thousands.
In addition, the U Rock was included in the New Territories Exhibition: Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America, at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD-NY), as part of a highly selected group that represents the best and most avant-garde products Latin America. The exhibition was the first of its kind, gathering over 75 different artists and designers, discusing the most relevant and recurring themes in latin design.
Th U Rock Chair is now looking for production partners to help make it a reality.