To the casual observer a bench seems like a pretty simple design proposition. It is, after all, just a flat place to sit, sometimes with a back and armrests. But that is not the case with Landscape Forms’ new Lakeside collection, which consists of two benches and a trash can by award-winning architect Margaret McCurry. Known for her Modernist reinterpretations of traditional American forms such as the farmhouse and the cottage, McCurry was approached by the outdoor-furnishings company to create designs that would be not only durable and comfortable but also affordable.
“We had the specific charge of designing benches that would appeal to small and medium-size towns in America,” McCurry says. “We had to be very cost conscious.” To meet this goal McCurry settled on a folded-steel frame over a variety of other materials because it is simple, sturdy, and economical. “I also took into account the way I would like to feel when I sit on something,” McCurry adds.
But the decorative embellishments on the two benches are pure whimsy. One version has planks of natural wood or Polysite—a synthetic material used in the design of decks—staggered along the back that mimic the classic American white picket fence. “It gave an interesting rhythm that enhanced the sense of ‘picket-ness,’” McCurry says. The other is decorated with one of two plasma-cut patterns: shoots of grass that grow from the seat up the back or a picturesque scattering of leaves. (Designers also have the option of submitting their own patterns.) Both designs straddle the line between minimalism and ornamentation, convention and novelty—a delicate balance that is anything but simple.