How to choose the perfect urban furniture for a park

Industrial design for landscape architects

Which fields do our clients work in, and how do we help them? Industrial design can add great value to projects across many different fields. At Neko, we’re specialists in industrial design for the urban environment, and we often work in landscape architecture. However, we are not landscape architects. What we do is collaborate with the lead architects to design custom urban elements, including furniture and signage, for their projects.

Understanding the vision

Landscape architects always have a very clear vision for the outdoor space and experience they want to create. As designers it’s important that we fully understand this vision so we can design elements which complement it. An initial meeting with the project leaders gives us valuable insights into the surroundings, the users, the desired objective, the elements needed, and more.

A small park might need little more than some comfortable seating and some litter bins. A larger space may require more elements such as signage, picnic areas, and bicycle parking. Areas of historical significance may call for an unobtrusive, timeless design aesthetic.

How is the park currently used?

We also meet with the people who will work in the space once it is finished. For example, in this signage design project we met with the maintenance team, who told us all about the waste collection methods used in the park. This helped us to design litter bins which would work well within this existing system. We also designed and developed a wayfinding system to help 15 million annual visitors to find their way easily and efficiently around the huge park. This project won a SEGD Award in California for “the strength of its conception and its powerful execution” (Jury comments, SEGD, 2009).

Visitor flow analysis is an especially important aspect which helps us to determine where key elements should be located and how many of them are needed. A picnic area will need more litter bins than a small pathway; or a water fountain might be needed near to the running track. This also helps us to avoid the common pitfalls which we unfortunately we see all too often in public spaces – such as overflowing bins by the picnic area; or signposts which are half-hidden behind a bush. Often in parks we see people sitting on the ground under shady trees because all the benches have been installed in the hot sun with no shade. These are all problems which are easy to avoid if we consider them at the right stage.

Sometimes we collaborate with specialists in different fields who are involved in the project. For this eco-archaeological nature reserve, we worked with biologists and translators to provide bilingual signage including botanical, zoological and archaeological information.

Making the space work

It is our job to make sure that a project has the right elements in the right places to make the space work as intended by the landscape architects. For some projects the vision is to have obvious elements which are easy to see even with huge amounts of visitors; others call for more low-profile designs. It always makes much more sense to install a few well-placed pieces of urban furniture which will be used and enjoyed by the public, than many more every few metres which look cluttered and may never be used. This has the added bonus that we can often save our client money by placing only the elements which will really work in the space.

Our goal is to create industrial designs which complement beautiful projects, and we work across a wide range of fields. By recognising that every project is unique, we can take an individual approach to each. We pride ourselves on finding the right solution for each of our clients and can provide any or all stages from concept design to manufacture, completely tailored to your vision.

If you have an upcoming project which could benefit from the input of our award-winning design team, we’d love to hear more about it! Contact us to schedule a no-commitment introductory call and find out how we can work together.

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