Does effective dwelling come in small doses and should the phrase “truncated time spent” be a unique opportunity to recognise a new furniture archetype? If +Halle and Toronto-based MSDS Studio’s Boulevard has any say about furniture in the future public realm, then yes.
In form it is a soft wave-like affair, but in terms of behaviour Boulevard makes a bigger point: “Today people are on the move, but most of the time we have to stop and think, reply to or check something, a brief moment where we need a seat,” says the studios co-founder Jonathan Sabine, “If you make a piece of furniture designed specifically for this purpose then you valorise it, you legitimise it in a sense, it is no longer a marginal thing, it brings the purpose of short-dwelling to life.”
The +Halle brief on dwelling involved three design studios which all contributed with different durations of dwelling in mind, yet all pointing to the same distinct purpose. “The brief gave us some boundaries, but in the end everyone’s interpretations were different. With a philosophical framing, as opposed to a technical or market-driven approach, we were allowed to think about dwelling from all angels before we began our design,” says MSDS Studio co-founder Jessica Nakanishi.
MSDS Studios’ response to +Halle’s brief was inspired by seeking new perspectives on what is means to pause for a short while. “Our approach to dwelling concerned a change in perspective, a seat which engages your body and gives you a sense of view, it forces you to be in a certain position and see thing from a certain height,” Nakanishi recalls.
From cafés, galleries, department stores and friendly hangouts, to airport lounges, pavilions and pagodas, Boulevard—quickly became a survey of quick breaks on the go—showing that leaning and soft seat can be fruitful combinations for architectural exploration. “We looked an array of heights and scales of being perched and comfortable, and in this process +Halle was a great sparring partner, willing to take risks with us, which made us resolve the challenge of accommodating for all people, short and tall,” says Nakanishi, “Our aim was to make Boulevard democratic, to make a quick dwelling approachable and inviting.”
The scale of Boulevard is noticeable, as it has the potential to grow substantially with modularity. Wide open and yet intimate in parts, the seat applies an autonomous and interesting take on dwelling. “There was a tension between making it useful and beautiful. It needs to be soft enough to be appealing, but hard enough to be durable, without losing the sculptural element. We resolved that by making a fluid system,” says Sabine.
MSDS Studio is renowned for a delicate use of tactility and colour, in this instance placing emphasis on inviting people into a break: “That is one of the huge factors in designing good furniture today, creating something that communicates to people. We are in a world full of object and much of it does not communicate and has no real intent. It is difficult to make something that has sensibility, but that is what we always try to do,” says Sabine.
We live in a public realm where we have to balance our personal space, and yet we still have to pause and think as individuals or in groups. This puts Boulevard in a timely and visionary place, as the prediction is that we have to share more not less in the future. “Boulevard is aspirational, we want to see a world where people are comfortable to be around one another, in their own spaces but in a sociable way,” Sabine concludes.
A small add-on to make a quick dwelling approachable and inviting.
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