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10 July 2024

Czech design is heading abroad: mobile furniture rocks the public debate in Germany

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Public discussion points made up of playful furniture titled SQUARE are the latest project from the product design studio Balance is Motion. The movement of the individual seating elements mimics the dynamics of interpersonal communication. SQUARE was created as part of an initiative of the same name in collaboration with the cultural center Neue Vahr in Bremen, Germany. One of the center's core missions is the development of the local community, including the integration of refugees. The SQUARE project is intended to promote democratic discussion between all levels of society. Prioritizing sustainability, the furniture is made from Polimix, a recycled foam material.

"Our task was to design spaces for public discussion where residents could meet. Public seating provides an inspiring space for listening and free debate," says Eliška Novák Knotková, founder of Balance is Motion. She adds: "The design of the project was inspired by the natural course of interpersonal communication - specifically the thought processes and dynamics of opinions that occur during conversations."

The figurative convergence and divergence of people is physically reflected by SQUARE; its users are the ones who can set the individual elements in motion. The project includes several types of seating. Just as in discussions people’s opinions lean more towards one side or the other, one seating element tilts forwards or backwards in a rocking seesaw motion. Another element mimics agreement and disagreement and the formation of opinion groups: its modules move on rails towards or away from others. The next discussion point consists of two opposing benches that rotate on their axes, their placement guiding them to come together or move apart. Just as some people prefer to walk when on the phone or while thinking intensely, the last of the SQUARE elements both figuratively and literally sways the person and thus stimulates them in formulating their thoughts.

In terms of material, the main role was played by a recycled foam, Polimix, which is made from post-production waste of the Czech company Yate. The advantage of this material is not only its circularity, but also the atypical colourway of the resulting design, which draws attention in public space. Moreover, thanks to its recycled origin, each piece is unique.

The SQUARE project highlights the upward trend of urban concepts that aim at the cohesion of local communities, novel designs and - last but not least - innovative and environmentally friendly materials.

Balance is Motion was founded in 2021 by Eliška Novák Knotková. The team consists of Eliška, Maria Nina Václavková, Filip Mirbauer, Martina Havlenová and Matěj Dejmek. Together, they help companies connect sustainable goals with product development through eco-design. In their B2B projects, they focus on a wide range of product design and the design of events and installations.

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