What if you superimposed the most exclusive chair onto a public bench?

Public Throne

An attachment to a public bench to turn it into a throne

Feb 2020 | Solo project
Acrylic sheets, acrylic rods           
Chairs are possibly the most classic design object of our time, and I was interested in their semiotics rather than ergonomics. What is the most symbolic chair? What is the opposite?

I conducted a social experiment to observe how people’s interaction might change when a public bench becomes a throne.


Public Throne is a piece of guerilla architecture that transforms the act of sitting in a public space into a symbolic, empowering experience. It elevates the sitter from being an anonymous one of the masses into someone special. As the contrast between the majestic throne and a plain, mass-produced bench, the ornaments were designed, bent, and assembled by hand.

In this project, although I suffered from a sense of conflict between doing something I wanted to do and it being “more of the same,” it resulted in unexpected insights into my own values. The first moment of joy came about when I finally placed my chair in Hyde Park, and people stopped to look at it, sit in it, or even walk up to me to say something about it. The chair felt complete at last. I felt so happy with fulfilment. It reminded me that my designs are only “real” when it exists out there, when other people see it and interact with it, and the true joy is when people feel the urge to speak about it (not when I ask for comments).
The second realisation was that I want to make people happy with my designs, rather than use negative reinforcement. Despite it being unintended, seeing the smiles and hearing comments like “I feel special” or “she looks like a princess from Frozen” made me feel like that was what I should aim for, and that results in the joy of creation for myself.

© 2024 Lisa Aoyama