It’s cool, it’s eco-friendly, and it offers those who sit on it a whole new way of looking at things.

When it comes to design or architecture, many of us are familiar with the phrase, “form follows function” – it essentially means that the shape of an object should primarily driven by its intended purpose.   When it comes to innovative design, that phrase is simply one of a myriad of other elements that are embedded into the final product by the time it comes to fruition.  Designs that are the epitome of this process were recently recognized at the 2016 Core 77 Design awards and among them, for the Built Environment Award category, was the ‘Outside In’ bench by IKD.

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Designers at Cambridge, MA based IKD, reversed the traditional perspective of those sitting on a circular park bench from facing outward from the base of a tree to facing inward, thus creating a more intimate space to focus on the beauty of the tree itself.

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As part of the process, the team addressed the construction elements and environmental considerations, building Outside In entirely from the excess tree waste resulting from the manufacturing of tree products:  this is especially significant, given their estimate that 38% of the tree remains as waste after being processed into building material.

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In keeping with the Outside In theme, the wooden blocks that make up the bench walls are created by reversing the hollowed out wood trunk segments that remain after the core is removed, leaving the raw cut surface on the outside and the natural bark face on the inside.  Brilliant.

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The ‘Outside In’ park bench is certainly an example of exemplary design and creativity, and a whole different perspective.  It’s kid friendly and cozy too, almost like a tree house on the ground:  the block walls that form the back of the bench are ideal for climbing over and hiding behind too.  By the look of the pictures, there’s room for a lot of friends too.

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