Australia’s first locally designed and made smart bench from Street Furniture Australia has received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade for outstanding design and innovation. What makes this bench a winner?
Street Furniture Australia’s purpose is to bring lasting enjoyment to public places. The company believes that street furniture plays a central role in animating and connecting places, ensuring they are vital, accessible and enriching for the community. Its active research and development program puts users at the heart of everything it does.
Since 1986, Street Furniture Australia has furnished more than 25,000 places in Australia and around the globe, designing and manufacturing at the factory in Western Sydney. Together with the company’s design, custodian and contracting partners, it strives to make public places enjoyable for all.
The Aria Smart Bench is Street Furniture Australia’s first foray into designing and manufacturing for the smart cities movement, and includes outdoor device charging, provision for wifi and sensors.
“For us, smart cities have two aspects,” says Head of Innovation June Lee Boxsell. “First, human-centred: we aim to bring enjoyment to public spaces and create meaningful experiences for the community. One way that the Aria Smart Bench answers this need is through modularity.
“Site-specific solutions are important for activating public spaces. Each place has its own identity, community, history. Just as at Nike you can design your own shoe, with Aria you can design your own bench without having to build from scratch. Aria lets you mix and match different components, materials and colours to provide a unique result that is durable, tried and tested.
“Second is technology. Internationally, we are on the verge of exponential technological growth – AI, sensors, networks, autonomous vehicles and big data are all set to change our public space experience forever, so technology is now a vital part of Street Furniture Australia’s design process.
“The smart bench integrates a table to provide outdoor device charging, with optional public wifi and space for sensors.
“The phone is no longer just a phone: it’s how our loved ones contact us in cases of emergency, and how we manage our calendars, store our plane tickets and more – so to be out of battery can be a big problem. Some even see it as a safety issue. We thought a public space bench that enables charging for free at any time would be of great benefit to the community.”
The design of the Aria Smart Bench is underpinned with deep research into the needs of park users, architects and landscape architects and place custodians.
“The Aria Smart Bench represents the next generation of products for Street Furniture Australia, as it’s the result of a deep design dive using Design Thinking methods,” says Design Advisor Mark Armstrong. “Architects, place owners and managers, and users in parks were interviewed to understand their needs and aspirations. These research findings were distilled into a series of attributes for the seating system.”
The design form for the Aria is contemporary yet timeless, to fit with diverse urban environments.
“Aria features a form language that we can take into the future,” says Principal Industrial Designer Danny Cheung. “I wanted to achieve a distinctive aesthetic that will not age over decades, with the flexibility of a modular system. The angular geometry allows light to create shadows and highlights for visual effect.
“It is a joy and a great honour to receive recognition from your peers, particularly with such a strong field of quality designs. We thank the Good Design Awards jury and organisers for their humbling support.”
The Aria Smart Bench is described as “very well resolved” by the Good Design jury. “Aesthetically beautiful in appearance. The durability is apparent and the round edges soften the design appropriately.”
Good Design Australia is an international design promotion organisation responsible for managing Australia’s annual Good Design Awards and other signature design events. With a proud history that dates back to 1958, Good Design Australia remains committed to promoting the importance of design to business, industry, government and the general public and the critical role it plays in creating a better, safer and more prosperous world.
The winners of Australia's peak industry design awards – the highest honour for design and innovation in the country – must demonstrate excellence in all areas and convince the jury they are worthy of recognition.
The panel spent several days evaluating entries according to a strict set of design criteria which covers good design, innovation and impact.
This year’s awards attracted a record number of submissions, with close to 700 design projects evaluated.
Dr Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia, said, “Receiving a Good Design Award at this level is a significant achievement given the very high calibre of entries received this year.
“Australia’s Good Design Award is more than a symbol of design excellence; it represents the hard work and dedication towards an innovative outcome that will ultimately improve our quality of life. These projects showcase the brilliance of design and the potential it has to improve our world.”
The Awards recognise excellence in architectural design, engineering, fashion, digital and communication design, and rewards emerging areas of design strategy, social impact and design entrepreneurship.
Find out more about Street Furniture Australia via the links below.