Press Release: Street Seats Design Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced

June 8, 2018 | | View Comments

Design Museum Portland Announces Semi-Finalists in Street Seats Design Challenge

For Immediate Release

High-resolution media images and additional information available here:

Design Museum Portland announces 15 unique benches showcased in this summer’s major outdoor exhibition, Street Seats: Urban Benches for Vibrant Cities at the World Trade Center Portland.

Portland, OR (June 7, 2018) – Design Museum Portland, in partnership with Portland General Electric  Company and World Trade Center Portland, is pleased to announce the 15 Street Seats semi-finalists to be fabricated and installed for a 6-month outdoor exhibition walking tour.

“With the urban landscape in Portland changing s0 quickly, we want the World Trade Center to be a place where employees, residents and visitors all feel welcome and delighted,” said Cindy Laurila, corporate real estate manager, PGE. “The Street Seats competition gives us an opportunity to transform the areas around the complex through a thoughtful design process emphasizing creative expression and human connection.”

The Street Seats design challenge invited participants from around the world to reimagine the public bench. Entries were submitted from 6 continents, 24 countries, and 22 U.S. states by design firms, students, and individuals for a chance to be one of 15 semi-finalists, whose designs will be fabricated and installed around the World Trade Center Portland and Tom McCall Waterfront Park. These creatives spent five months designing a sustainable, unique, aesthetically-pleasing public bench that embraces and enhances the vibrancy of downtown Portland.

“We are overwhelmed by the design talent that participated in this competition. Creatives from around the world integrated Portland’s iconic element in their designs, from our cycling culture, to the Willamette River, to the waterfront’s cherry blossoms. These benches will truly enliven the city, complimenting our existing design elements and bringing new perspectives to our public spaces.” said Erica Rife, Managing Director, Design Museum Portland.

The Semi-Finalists

A hand-selected jury of design thought leaders, sustainability experts, and urban innovators reviewed each entry to determine the chosen semi-finalist designs. Entrants were required to submit a digital design proposal and a 1/8 scale model for deliberation, showcasing a broad scope of design knowledge, including ideation, workmanship, and materials. The semi-finalist designs represent local and international talent, eco-friendly practices, and the capability of creatives far and wide to make an impact in the built environment.


Designer Yingjie took her inspiration from the environment of Downtown Portland and began to consider the surrounding area as a City Forest. “To some extent, a bench to a city is just like the fern plants to an area of forest. They are growing lower on the ground, and everywhere.”
Designed by Yingjie Liang
Helsinki, Finland


A physical manifestation of inclusivity, the B_tween Bench has a space in between for wheelchair users to sit in between friends or strangers on public street benches, rather than to the side. The team took inspiration and guidance from Benji Borastero, a Gibraltar local hero and Paralympian: “Benji also helped inform the design as far as accessibility and how a wheelchair user would slide into the space.”
Designed by Gamma Concepts


The Lumiere bench is a responsive, eco-friendly public bench. The design uses a recycled plastic compound embedded with phosphorescent mineral, which lights the street in the evening. In using this creative combination of materials, Lumiere Bench is a multifunctional urban structure and brings surprise, playfulness, and environmental awareness to the city.
Designed by LKL Design
London, U.K.

A Quiet Place to Sit and Rest

Inspiration for this bench came from the beloved children’s book ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein; a classic tale of a tree whose happiness comes from helping a boy throughout his life. The seat encourages each visitor to establish a relationship with the tree and to spark the hope of a healthier urban environment for both people and trees.
Designed by Kyle and Alyssa Trulen
Portland, OR, U.S.A.

The Looper

The Looper considers an urban environment as a balanced set of objects, including new trends, mixed cultures, and urban growth. The design team fell in love with the idea of designing an uncertain appearance, mimicking the fragile but strong condition of cities and illustrating an urban environment as a contradictory complexity.
Designed by NYXO
Castions di Zoppola, Italy


Designer Huber found inspiration while hiking in Oregon, observing mushrooms, musks, fungi, and their connections to tree trunks and structural properties. He incorporated a modern representation of these elements with recycled wood, one of the most important substances for construction in Portland and an emblem of Oregon.
Designed by Akos Huber
Portland, OR, U.S.A.


This structure is a space for relaxation and playful activity. By layering a variety of loop forms, the bench allows people of all ages to sit, lie down, and crawl in and out. It offers a sense of play while maintaining a connection to the surrounding environment. This bench’s playful design transforms and enlivens the streetscape.
Designed by Folio
Ames, IA, U.S.A.

Fluid Wood

Portland is a city that promotes communal consciousness as much as a respect for the individual expression. Fluid Wood allows for individuality to be exercised by providing two different seating options with two different views. The aesthetics of the design is inspired by the elements that are embedded in Portland’s history: trees and rivers, wood and water.
Designed by Norberto Gliozzi and Axiom Custom Products
Portland, OR, U.S.A.

The River

This project aims to reconnect downtown Portland with the Willamette River. The connection between people and the water has been drastically reduced, allowing less than five percent of the city’s footprint to have an access to the waterfront. The Wave can offer an old time waterfront experience, inspiring people to be attentive to Portland’s main artery and natural wonder.
Designed by Sasaki + Concrete Poetry Inc
Watertown, MA, U.S.A.


Inspiration for Manifold comes from Portland’s climate, culture, people. The curved, sleek design attracts exploring tourists and professionals on their lunch break in its comfortable seating. The slatted design compliments Portland’s climate in allowing water to drain while still providing public seating.
Designed by Dening He
Portland, OR, U.S.A.


Discarded tires are an ecological hazard, yet are exceptionally durable and can easily be up-cycled and repurposed. Re-Tyre utilizes such recycled tires in a color gradient of red to white, reflecting Portland’s iconic the cherry blossoms and providing a colorful, comfortable seating opportunity.
Designed by M.O.D.E.S.
Hong Kong, China

Patch Bench

The focus of the Patch Bench is materiality and the impact of human beings on the environment. The profound imagery of the Pacific Garbage Patch, and the increased contamination of the oceans globally, ignited the team’s desire for collecting and repurposing plastic. Made of discarded plastic bags, the Patch Bench is a public amenity that can both reduce the amount of microplastics in the ocean, as well as propagate that idea to others and demonstrate how they can do the same.
Designed by Dilly Dally Projects
New York, NY, U.S.A.


Two design teams, one in Portland and the other in Tokyo, worked together in parallel to create a bench that bridges the two cities. The result was a bench with a twist – simple and elegant with an important quirk. This multifunctional structure can be used in many ways: Sit and enjoy the view, lean against it while you finish your latte, use it as a stage, or fall in love at sunset.
Designed by Evolve Collaborative and Kotobuki
Portland, OR, U.S.A.


This one-of-a-kind seat intends to spark conversations on Portland’s water-story and to promote conservation through a personal experience by the user. The juxtaposition of Portland’s contrasting characteristics within the urban fabric on either side of the Willamette River illustrate the amphibious nature of the region and allow the user to feel submerged within it.
Designed by The Tubsters
Berkeley CA, U.S.A.

Fractal Rock

There are 317 million tons of construction waste produced in the United States every year. Fractal Rock begins to explore the idea of reducing this number by reusing construction materials in a versatile bench fit for mass production. The design team addresses the issue in three ways: sustainable material sourcing, minimal waste production, and modular adaptability.
Designed by Holst Architecture
Portland, OR, U.S.A.



Street Seats is proudly presented by Portland General Electric Company and World Trade Center Portland, and sponsored by Skanska, Gerding Edlen, Zidell Yards, Klarquist Sparkman, Jupiter Hotel, RACC, Acme Scenic, and Lease Crutcher Lewis.

For full details on public programs visit


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Design Museum Portland:

About Street Seats

Street Seats is a multi-faceted design challenge culminating in a public, outdoor exhibition that celebrates local and international design talent, civic innovation, and sustainability. As cities become increasingly dense, leaders are focused on developing urban spaces that employ creative functionality while preserving identity and celebrating culture. Street Seats activates the visibility and livability of an urban area while being socially and environmentally conscious.

About Design Museum Portland

At Design Museum Portland we believe design can change the world. Done well, it can elevate our quality of life, make businesses more competitive, and protect our environment. Design awareness, education, and expertise are more important now than ever before as design continues to impact communities, organizations, and markets around the world. Design Museum Portland is redefining what it means to be a museum in the 21st century — we’re online, nomadic, and accessible to all through a network of exhibitions, events, and content. Our mission: show the world the positive impact good design can have and create the most accessible museum imaginable. Design is everywhere. So are we.
For more information visit