PlaySetting by Joe Parr

Joe Parr's PlaySetting furniture is influenced by playground equipment

Playground swings, carousels and rolling logs informed this furniture collection designed by Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate Joe Parr.

PlaySetting by Joe Parr
Swing Seat comprises a white steel tube, that serves as a base and handles, and holds up a curved leather saddle where the user sits

The Detroit designer created PlaySetting for his MFA thesis project at the graduate school in Michigan. His series consists of three pieces called Swing Seat, Roller Sofa and Carousel.

Each piece is designed to move in a different way that draws on the structures found in children's play areas.

"I borrowed aesthetic cues from familiar active contexts and created a feeling somewhere between furniture, playground, and gym equipment," the designer said.

PlaySetting by Joe Parr
Roller Sofa takes cues from the playground log roller. Two cylinders upholstered with a blue Maharam fabric and foam form its seat and backrest

"The objects were designed to activate the body and encourage social behaviours," he added. "By defying the typical typology of furniture, the ambiguity of these objects encourages playful participation in both personal and social interactions."

Swing Seat comprises a white steel tube, that serves as a base and handles, and holds up a curved leather saddle hanging in the middle. When a user takes a seat, the base rocks and the seat pivots to create a motion similar to that of a playground swing.

"Swing Seat challenges the instinct to seek relaxation by planting ourselves in a lounge chair when we feel fatigued," Parr said. "Instead, it recalls the same purpose as recess for a child – to stimulate the mind through the body."

The Roller Sofa, meanwhile, takes cues from the playground log roller which turns over as users run on the top of it.

PlaySetting by Joe Parr
The piece seats two individuals, but in order to achieve comfort and counter-resistance participants must communicate and synchronise their movements

Parr developed this idea into two cylinders upholstered with a blue Maharam fabric and foam that form the seat and backrest of Roller Sofa. As the user reclines the cylinders rotate beneath them.

The piece has room for two individuals, but in order to achieve comfort and counter the resistance caused by the weight and motion of two bodies, participants are forced to communicate and synchronise their movements.

PlaySetting by Joe Parr
Carousel is a circular platform that spins around a central axis, it is attached to a bar that the participant uses for stabilisation

"It first feels like a game but as each member becomes more involved it forms a more fluid relationship and creates an opportunity to connect," the designer added.

A circular platform that spins around a central axis is attached to a bar that the participant uses for stabilisation on Carousel. The round base, made from alternating panels of white oak, white ash and plywood, tilts as the user shifts its weight, while the white metal handlebar provides stability during posture changes.

This video shows Parr's PlaySetting furniture in use

"This rocking and whirling in all directions allows the participant to engage their entire body through balance," Parr said.

Other innovative furniture items created by students include a chair designed to inhibit "manspreading" and several pieces made from salvaged bicycle parts.

Photography is by Joe Parr.