Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio

Object Studio creates portable social-distancing bench for Amsterdam

CoronaCrisisKruk is a bench with a handle designed for social distancing by Dutch design firm Object Studio to let users sit together while staying apart.

The piece of lightweight street furniture has been shortlisted for Dezeen Awards 2020 in the seating design category.

The designer carrying Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
CoronaCrisisKruk is two stools connected by a beam

Object Studio created CoronaCrisisKruk to help people adapt to life following government guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic.

CoronaCrisisKruk is formed of two krukken – stools in Dutch – joined together by a beam with a handle in the middle. The furniture is made from CNC-milled birch plywood pieces that slot and screw together.

Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio, in a park in Amsterdam
Phrases have been carved into the benches.

It can be picked up and moved, then placed anywhere for two people to sit while remaining 1.5 metres apart. Phrases on the benches contain social distancing puns such as "met afstand het leukste park", or "by far the nicest park".

"When the coronavirus hit the Netherlands in March this year, the Dutch government responded by setting new guidelines for its people to strictly refrain from touching others, and remain distant from each other," said Object Studio founder Björn van den Broek.

"We all had to behave differently from what we were used to," he added.

People sitting on Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
Sitters on the bench must keep 1.5 metres apart

People in the Netherlands were instructed to stay 1.5 metres apart from others in public.

"I live right next to the Noorderpark in Amsterdam, and from my house, I can easily see the park visitors passing by. I saw the struggle happening and recognised my own uncertainty in the behaviour of others," van den Broek said.

CoronaCrisisKruk is designed to help people remember and visualise the safe distance to keep, thanks to ruler-style measuring lines that are etched into the sides

Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
The design is intended to ease anxiety during the pandemic

Van den Broek designed the benches in March and had six manufactured by a local maker round the corner from his house.

"As soon as I had put them in the park, the response was amazing," he said.

"People understood them right away, and just loved using them. Even in a circle around them people kept the right distance from each other, without having to check or correct others on their behaviour."

Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio, displayed outside a museum
Ruler-style markings remind people to social distance

The first benches have the names of the Noorderpark on their sides, and the Amsterdam Museum has bought one for its courtyard.

"One of the benches recently got vandalised, but I am repairing it, with a nice add-on with a positive 'hold on people' text," Van den Broek told Dezeen.

"People are fed up with the virus and the social distancing rules, but we have to stay strong and hold on for some extra time."

Object Studio is now offering custom versions for any organisations that want their own CoronaCrisisKruk, with all profits donated to Doctors Without Borders.

More design for social distancing includes a restaurant serving tray by Austrian studio March Gut that is 1.2 metres long, and mobile screens for separating students in school by furniture brand UNIT Fabrications.

Photography is by Cees Hin.

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Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio
Corona Crisis Kruk, a social distancing bench by Object Studio