Jasper Morrison curates 18 designer benches for Fiskars Village Biennale
Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Fiskars Village Biennale

Jasper Morrison has enlisted 18 designers including Martino Gamper, Michael Marriott and Cecilie Manz to create benches for Fiskars Village in Finland, for its inaugural art and design biennale.

The London-based designer was invited by the organisers of the Fiskars Village Biennale to curate the installation, which involved placing public benches along the banks of the Fiskars River.

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Keiji Takeuchi is one of the 18 designers that have created benches

The Social Seating benches were installed ahead of the event's inaugural edition, which opened on 19 May 2019. The festival emphasises the principles of diversity and sustainable development, which are encapsulated in a programme that brings together art and design.

Visitors have an opportunity to engage with work by almost 100 artists and designers who are selected by three curators, Jasper Morrison, Anniina Koivu and Jenni Nurmenniemi.

In a text in the festival's catalogue, Morrison suggested that the biennale format offers an opportunity to explore the less commercial aspects of design, adding that biennales can be viewed as "an antidote to the endless design fairs and design weeks which have proliferated in recent years".

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Finnish designer Harri Koskinen made a simple bench from four sections of raw pine

The village where the festival takes place was developed around an ironworks established in 1649, which gave rise to the company that bears its name.

The village's historic buildings are heritage listed and Fiskars is now a significant centre for handicrafts that is home to around 600 inhabitants.

Morrison claimed his decision to commission a series of benches was based on the arrangement of the village's ex-industrial buildings along the banks of the river. As an object intended to be shared, the bench also reflects the biennale's theme "coexistence".

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Martino Gamper made a seat out of recycled plastic

Morrison selected designers of all ages whose work he admires to create the seating solutions, which are placed along the river banks between the venues that house the biennale's main exhibits.

"The public bench is rare in the spectrum of furniture types," said Morrison. "It belongs to no one and is available to all; it stands as a symbol of community and enhances the quality of everyday public life."

"In terms of a design challenge, the bench offers infinite structural, material, expressive, and sculptural possibilities," he added. "We all know a good bench when we see one, and this makes them an ideal subject for an event of this kind."

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Simo Heikkilä combined oak and steel to create a bench with angled backrests

Morrison provided the 18 designers with a simple brief to "design a bench for a Finnish village". He claimed this request offered greater clarity and freedom than the more complex and commercial briefs most designers are used to.

The designers responded to the brief with a wide range of proposals that represent distinctly individual interpretations of this simple and familiar object.

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
French designer Julien Renault used enamelled steel to create a minimal bench. Photograph is by Julien Renault Objects

Finnish designer Harri Koskinen created a simple bench made from four sections of raw pine wood, with the two main pieces angled inward slightly to create a comfortable and ergonomic seat.

Portuguese designer Hugo Passos's bench in oak responds to its location next a sturdy tree. The bench's backrest abuts the tree trunk, which acts as an additional support for users sitting on an extended section of the seat.

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Maria Jeglinska introduces colour into the natural scenery with her blue bench design

Julien Renault from France developed a minimal bench in enamelled steel with a slender, curved seat, while Martino Gamper used sheets of a recycled plastic composite to produce a design featuring a dynamic angular pattern.

Finnish designer Simo Heikkilä combined native oak with galvanised steel to create a seating platform with angled boards slotted into a gap at the centre.

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Stafford Schmool's bench features the words "I heart Eero Saarinen"

Other designers who created benches for the project include Aino Michelsen, Stafford Schmool, Jens Fager, Karin Widnäs, Keiji Takeuchi, Klaus Hackl, Maria Jeglinska, Michel Charlot, Sosuke Nakabo, Thélonious Goupil and Wataru Kumano.

The 2019 Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale exhibitions are open to the public until 15 September. This includes a programme of events organised by local artists, designers and galleries presented alongside the main exhibits.

The humble park bench was also the focus of a previous project in a Stockholm suburb that saw international designers including Max Lamb, Scholten & Baijings and Philippe Malouin create "Superbenches" for a public park.

Photography is by Kerttu Penttilä unless stated.

More images

Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Photo is by Kerttu Penttilä
Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Photo is by Kerttu Penttilä
Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Photo is by Kerttu Penttilä
Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Photo is by Kerttu Penttilä
Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Photo is by Kerttu Penttilä
Jasper Morrison curates collection of designer benches for Finnish biennale
Photo is by Kerttu Penttilä