Guiding By Design: Architecture

Posted March 5, 2014, under Gee Whillickers!

We talk about design all the time and, given our company’s raison d’être, our emphasis is obviously on graphic design. But “design” encompasses a broad and varied array of disciplines.

The common denominator is essentially planning. Each discipline has to consider how its designs interact with its audience or users.

When it comes to Urban Design, Landscape Design, and Architecture, the “audience” is “Lots and lots of different kinds of people.”

Let’s examine the types of people that designers in these disciplines have to account for.

The Social Snoozer

It’s a weird fact of life that sleeping in public is frowned upon. I mean, let’s set aside the fact that a certain percentage of people who do so have nowhere else to sleep (or bathe, or do laundry). It’s even frowned upon, if that’s not the case. Apparently, the audacity of napping where complete strangers can see you is just the worst.

Just the worst, you guys.

Benches are a natural target for outdoor sleep seekers, because they’re off the ground, the back acts as a partial shield against the elements, and most are long enough to stretch out.

But thanks to this taboo, urban planners are tasked with shutting that action down. So we’ve become accustomed to seeing park benches with “armrests.”

This apparently wasn’t sufficient deterrent to ambitious public sleepers in the London borough of Camden. So the Camden Borough Council hired a company called Factory Furniture to devise an entirely new breed of bench. With the angled planes and ridged peak, even sitting on this thing is a challenge.

There are also claims that the wünderbench can deter theft, drug dealing and litter. It is basically the superhero of the bench world.

So public sleepers look for other places to publicly sleep, and designers look for ways to make them sleep elsewhere.

Unauthorized Decorators

Then you have the folks who just have to leave their own mark on the world.

In their defense, some things in the world are pretty drab, even ugly. That boarded up construction site isn’t doing anything to brighten anyone’s day. Telephone and light poles are prevalent eyesores, let’s face it.

City planners tend to not look kindly on this unauthorized decorating, and we’re sure they have a variety of reasons. We can understand not being down with graffiti, since most of those would-be artists are hardly Banksy. But it seems a bit much to prevent people from putting up their lost pet ads.


Those Dang Kids

Then of course we come to the dreaded public menace known as skateboarders.

True, there can be some real danger from unskilled and reckless skateboarding – which is a lot of the skateboarding that goes on – and some material damage can occur on top of that. It does make sense to want to protect your beautifully designed spaces and the people in them.

By making them ugly, apparently.

The Backlash, Because of Course There’s Backlash.

Now, we don’t know if these are intended to be as tongue-in-cheek as this article, but people have actually made efforts to Stick It to The Man in this area.

We kind of like German artist Oliver Schau’s solution. All that bright yellow tubing must be hell to cart around, but it really cheers things up.


Then there is Sarah Ross of the United States, who figured why bother carrying your peaceful noncompliance in your hands when you can just wear it.

Somehow we have doubts that this will catch on.

Protests notwithstanding, we’ve come so far from old school methods of social engineering and control that modern populaces need to be reminded that it used to be a bit less subtle.

Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.