NYC Parks, the National Park Service and the Battery Conservancy today announced that prototypes of the five Battery Chair Finalists in the first-ever design competition to create a mobile, outdoor chair for New York City’s parks are currently on display at the Castle Clinton National Monument. Located in the heart of the historic Battery, the public will be able to See, Sit and Select each chair for comfort, enjoyment, and durability.
“All New Yorkers and visitors to the Battery are encouraged to visit the Castle Clinton National Monument and test out five unique, innovative and attractive chairs,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Parks are not just green spaces, but public spaces. The Battery’s competition to create a mobile outdoor chair will create an unique park experience for the public to enjoy.”
The five Battery Chair Finalists will be available at Castle Clinton from July through September. The exhibition of these chairs was designed by Shane Neufeld and Scott Dougan, who had previously worked on the bamboo fence design of the Battery Urban Farm.
The winning chair design will be announced in the fall and be awarded a $10,000 prize. With sponsorship from generous donors, the winning chair design will then be fabricated for use on the Battery Oval, a three-acre oval lawn currently in construction in the Battery – the much visited New York City park at Manhattan’s southern tip.
This historic competition began on July 31, 2012, when The Battery Conservancy Americas Design Competition made an open call for designs from students and professionals from North, Central, and South America. By November 2012, the competition resulted in 679 designs submitted by over 1,500 designers from 15 countries.
The competition had three goals: create a distinctive, movable chair to be used on the Battery Green; encourage innovative design in New York City’s parks; and promote the flow of cross-cultural ideas throughout the Americas. The five finalists are from Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States:
Fleurt – Andrew Jones Design: Andrew Jones, Toronto, Canada
Maple Chair – Maria Camarena Design: Maria Camarena Bernard, Zapopan, Mexico
Pivot Chair – Independent Design Group: Simon Kristak & Aidan Jamison, Brooklyn NY, USA
South Chair – Jason Bird, Redwood City, CA, USA
U Rock – Pitanga: Davi Deusdara, Érica Martins, Tais Costa & Rafael Studart Alencar Falcão, Brazil
“The Battery Conservancy’s Americas Design Competition created an opportunity to excite and challenge the academic and professional design communities to re-imagine public outdoor seating,” said Warrie Price, President of The Battery Conservancy. “The Battery looks forward to translating this design experience into real, versatile, movable chairs for millions of visitors to use as they enjoy the magnificent Battery Oval.”
The top 50 designs from 9 counties were exhibited in an online gallery and outdoors at The Battery, giving millions of visitors the opportunity to see innovative ideas from both professional and student designers.
The Five Battery Chair Finalists all use durable, lightweight, and recyclable materials, but each offers a unique experience. Fleurt imagines sun-loving flowers floating in a field. Canadian designer Andrew Jones intended for this archetypal floral form to be constantly rearranged by visitors, creating a “memorable, diaphanous landscape.” The Maple chair, by Maria Camarena Bernard of Mexico, selected the natural beauty found in a leaf with the pattern the most similar to a lace fabric used in the 19th century, creating a chair that represents the history of the people and the wildlife that has passed through Battery Park. The Pivot Chair, designed by the Brooklyn-based Independent Design Group, offers a multidimensional sitting experience: a visitor can either sit upright or recline; as the designers describe, the chair’s flat surfaces can also double as tabletops for ”food, drinks, or even a laptop for a lunch-hour recess.” The South Chair, in the words of designer Jason Bird, offers a contemporary form with “soft curves, flexible backrest, and color options” which provide both “a playful aesthetic and comfortable seat.” U Rock, a seat developed by a design team from Brazil using recycled materials, is stationary in one position and can be turned upside down to rock back and forth. As the design team says, “A chair that gives you the option to sit still or just have some fun.”
To develop the first movable chair for a New York City park, The Battery Conservancy enlisted world-renowned jurors, a dynamic board of advisers, international media partners and comments and feedback from the public. The distinguished jurors are Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Architecture; Allison Arieff, design writer, The New York Times, Editor, The Urbanist; Fernando Campana and Humberto Campana, designers, Sao Paulo; Rob Forbes, Founder of Design Within Reach and CEO of
Public Bikes; and Mario Schjetnan, Co-Founder & Director of Mario Schjetnan/Grupo de Diseño Urbano, Mexico City.
To see the Five Battery Chair Finalists, please visit www.thebattery.org.
Arthur Pincus / Phil Abramson (NYC Parks): firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Rath (The Battery Conservancy): email@example.com
The design competition has three phases. The first phase is an open design competition. In the second phase, the jury will select Top Designs and Finalists, which will be featured online and on exhibition banners in the park. The Battery Conservancy will develop full scale prototypes of the Finalists’ Designs and has been invited by Design Miami/ to exhibit these prototypes. In the third phase, the winner(s) will be awarded a cash prize and their designs will go into fabrication for use in the new Battery Green, a 3-acre oval at the park’s Broadway entrance, scheduled to open in 2014.
Phase One: Competition Announced — Submissions Received (COMPLETED)
July 31 – November 19, 2012
Phase Two: Jury Selection of Top Designs — Exhibition of Top 50 Designs (COMPLETED)
December 2012 – December 2013
Phase Three: Finalists Selection and Prototype Development & Exhibition
November 2013 – October 2014
Why a Moveable Chair?
As the great urban theorist William Holly Whyte discovered: “Chairs enlarge choice: to move into the sun, out of it, to make room for groups, move away from them. If you know you can move if you want to, you feel more comfortable staying put.” The Battery’s movable chairs will delight while they invite, animating the park and making it Downtown’s central meeting place.
Why a Design Competition?
It is an opportunity to excite and challenge the academic and professional industrial design communities to produce a new era in public outdoor furniture. It demonstrates The Battery Conservancy’s commitment to bring exceptional design into the daily lives of its visiting public. It is The Conservancy’s intent that the competition will inspire other cities throughout the Americas to do the same.
Why The Americas?
From Tierra del Fuego to Juneau, a burgeoning industrial design sector is emerging. The United States, as well as its neighbors to the north and south are recognizing the economic potential in growing a design culture. The Battery Conservancy’s competition will promote sustainable industrial design and the flow of cross-cultural commerce and ideas throughout the Americas.
For nearly two decades, The Battery Conservancy has worked to transform the park from masses of cracked asphalt to waves of perennial gardens. New York’s birthplace park is being rebuilt to support Downtown’s role as the epicenter of commerce, an emerging work/live community, and a major tourist destination. The Battery Green begins construction in 2012 as part of a $18M reconstruction of The Battery perimeter.