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[A] Bench for Conversation

[A] Bench for Conversation is a question posed: can you hear me? Designed during a global pandemic, this bench aims to create a space for private socially distanced conversations within the public realm. The bench is shaped into an ellipse to direct sound from one seat to the other. We used everyday materials like clay bricks and wood to try to create a bench for conversation between companions and strangers alike.

Rendering of bench showing how people would use it
Rendering of the “Room for Conversation” a bench proposal for the Venice Biennale, Summer 2021

This bench provides two types of seating: an exterior public and interior private space. The exterior bench provides a space for visitors and families to gather, rest, and observe. Sound travels along the walls of the interior space so that people on opposite sides can hear each other speak.

The pair of elliptic benches facing each other reflect the importance of communication as a reciprocal action. It works to show that people should be as passionate about listening as they are about being heard.

This project was submitted for “A Bench in Venice” – an international open call to propose a bench design for installation in Venice, Italy during the summer of 2021.

Project Team: Luke Rumage (90Ten Design), Randa Malkawi (, Farah Michel