Tuesday 17 July 2012

Outdoor benches along Marina Bay waterfront promenade unveiled

Waters of Marina Bay, a fish and a ship are some ideas for the benches
By Natasha Ann Zachariah, The Straits Times, 14 Jul 2012

If you are walking around the Marina Bay waterfront promenade this weekend and looking for somewhere to sit, you might be surprised by 10 quirky new additions to the regular benches there.

For example, there is one that looks like the endangered Malayan tapir and another that resembles a ship's hull.

These unusual seating options are part of a project created by 10 groups of students from the Lasalle College of the Arts as part of the ongoing programme, My Marina Bay, My Inspiration.

The students and the school worked with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to design the benches for the Street Furniture Design Project, which were set up at the waterfront promenade on Thursday and will be there for a year.

Popular benches that the public votes for in an online contest could be replicated and made into permanent fixtures.

The bench project is one of three projects that the URA and Lasalle have collaborated on. The other two are themed facade decoration designs for the Marina Bay City Gallery, and outdoor posters which reflect the bay's energetic vibe. Both design projects have already been installed and the designs will be rotated throughout the year.

A URA spokesman says: 'The programme was held to encourage student and community groups to draw inspiration from Marina Bay and to translate it into creative designs for the area.'

Students from Lasalle's interior design programme were invited to join the bench project in February and had three months to submit their final designs.

Forty entries were shortlisted from the more than 60 submissions before being whittled down to the final 10 by a panel of judges comprising six representatives from URA, the school and the furniture industry. They were selected based on their originality, functionality, durability and how easy they were to build.

For the designers, a mix of second year and graduate students, it was a good chance to showcase their work in public - an opportunity that is hard to come by, they say.

Ms Jessica Chung, 22, who worked on the bench, Tide, with four group members, says: 'As students, we rarely get chances such as this to show our work on such a public scale. It is really exciting to see it finally being made after many challenges, from working out different ideas to figuring out which material to use.'

A Lasalle spokesman says of the collaboration with the URA: 'This gives the students an invaluable opportunity to turn their designs on paper into a physical piece of furniture for the public to enjoy.

'Through this project, students experience the challenges that a real working designer faces, in terms of practicality and durability.'

The students also had to find their own sponsorship from companies such as oil trading and supplier Max Oil and auto financier SL Credit to help fund the building of the benches. They cost between $1,750 and $8,000 to make.

For second-year interior design student Luke Lim, 25, the project was a chance to get his name as a designer out.

Mr Lim, who worked with four students on the bench Voisel, says: 'Being a young, unknown designer is hard. It is a competitive scene, so it's about trying to get maximum exposure.'

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