Design ist unsichtbar

Not mobile. Easy to clean and maintain. Not for sleeping! Public spaces are dominated by furniture that erects borders, means (dis)placement and offers room for negotiation for some but not for others. The study Design ist unsichtbar explores the potentials of participation in the context of urban furniture – and puts forward ideas of how to share power of action and reclaim free spaces.

It forms public space. It creates spaces for encounters and erects borders. It provides for quality of life but also repression, it offers space for negotiation or denies it. It has no voice and yet sends out a political signal. We are talking about urban furniture – and its possibilities. Although the German term “Mobiliar” (furniture) derives from the Latin “mobilis” for mobile, it usually stands for immobile, uniform and rigid seating, which is subjected to norms and regulations and sometimes precedes them in its design.

What other forms can and should urban furniture have? Is it just a matter of sitting or can urban furniture contribute much more to public space? How does it react to specific places and their resources? Does it encourage an exchange among neighbours, participation and appropriation? Can it contribute to more respect in the neighbourhood? Does it strengthen the neighbourhood as a whole and create new meeting places?

Co-financed by the municipal department MA19 – Architecture and Urban Design, the practice-oriented study Design ist unsichtbar combines art, design and urbanism to explore the potentials of participation in the context of urban furniture together with residents of Vienna’s 2nd district – in the area between Prater and Danube. Furthermore, with an artistic and experimental approach, the project aims to expand social urban infrastructure and to provoke appropriation of public space, following the motto “Conquer spaces, open spaces!”

Martin Färber
Dieter Lang
Virginia Lui
Peter Oroszlány
Lisa Puchner
Christina Schraml and Raphael Volkmer Cooperation partners: Andrea Kreppenhofer and Erich Streichsbier (MA19 Architecture and Urban Design)