Aria Smart Bench Wins Coveted Good Design Award

Australia’s first locally designed and made smart bench, with outdoor device charging and provision for WiFi and sensors, has received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade for outstanding design and innovation.

The Aria Smart Bench is Street Furniture Australia’s first foray into the smart cities movement, says Head of Innovation June Lee Boxsell.

“For us, smart cities has two aspects. First, human-centred: we aim to bring enjoyment to public spaces and create meaningful experiences for the community. One way Aria Smart Bench answers this need is through modularity,” says Boxsell.

“Site specific solutions are important for activating public spaces. Each place has its own identity, community, history. Just as at Nike you can design your own shoe, with Aria you can design your own bench without having to build from scratch. Aria lets you mix and match different components, materials and colours to provide a unique result that is durable, tried and tested.

“Second is technology. Internationally, we are on the verge of exponential technological growth – AI, sensors, networks, autonomous vehicles and big data are all set to change our public space experience forever, so technology is now a vital part of Street Furniture Australia’s design process.

“The smart bench integrates with a table to provide outdoor device charging, with optional public WiFi and space for sensors.

“The phone is no longer just a phone: it’s how our loved ones contact us in cases of emergency, we manage our calendars, store our plane tickets – so to be out of battery can be a big problem. Some even see it as a safety issue. We thought a public space bench that enables charging at any time would be of great benefit to the community.”

The design of the Aria Smart Bench is underpinned with deep research into the needs of park users, architects and landscape architects and place custodians, says Design Advisor Mark Armstrong.

“The Aria Smart Bench represents the next generation of products for Street Furniture Australia, as it’s the result of a deep design dive using Design Thinking methods. Architects, place owners and managers, and users in parks were interviewed to understand their needs and aspirations. These research findings were distilled into a series of attributes for the seating system,” says Armstrong.

Principal Industrial Designer Danny Cheung says the design form for the Aria is contemporary yet timeless, to fit with diverse urban environments.

“Aria features a form language that we can take into the future. I wanted to achieve a distinctive aesthetic, that will not age over decades, with the flexibility of a modular system. The angular geometry allows light to create shadows and highlights for visual effect,” says Cheung. 

“It is a joy and a great honour to receive recognition from your peers, particularly with such a strong field of quality designs. We thank the Good Design Awards jury and organisers for their humbling support.”

The Aria Smart Bench is described as “very well resolved” by the Good Design jury. “Aesthetically beautiful in appearance. The durability is apparent and the round edges soften the design appropriately,” they commented.

The winners of Australia’s peak industry design awards – the highest honour for design and innovation in the country – must demonstrate excellence in all areas and convince the jury they are worthy of recognition.

The panel spent several days evaluating entries according to a strict set of design criteria which covers good design, innovation and impact.

This year’s awards attracted a record number of submissions, with close to 700 design projects evaluated.

Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia, said: “Receiving a Good Design Award at this level is a significant achievement given the very high calibre of entries received this year.

“Australia’s Good Design Award is more than a symbol of design excellence, it represents the hard work and dedication towards an innovative outcome that will ultimately improve our quality of life. These projects showcase the brilliance of design and the potential it has to improve our world.”

Good Design Awards ceremony 2019.
Good Design Awards ceremony 2019.

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