Peelback Bench

By:  | March - 16 - 2010

The park bench, much like other public, utilitarian furniture, has too often been regulated to uninspired mediocrity. They seldom have a contextual relationship to their surroundings and they almost never contribute to the story of a place. Ben Thorpe’s Peelback Bench however, manages to do all of the above with grace and elegance.

Peelback Bench

The bench seems to peel away a layer of history, presenting for the person sitting on the seat, a short explanation of the history of the area. As Thorpe explains “The basic principle of the bench is to give the effect that it has been peeled away from the ground, revealing a typographical story based upon the history of the particular area where the bench would be placed, giving the impression that you were reading from the foundations of the town”.



Ben Thorpe is is an award winning product designer currently based in the North West of the UK.  A core principle of Thorpe’s work is that interdisciplinary collaboration makes for better and more interesting products and the peelback bench is a strong example of the power of interdisciplinary engagement.

The bench was developed through collaboration with the City Brand  project in Preston, UK. The organization works to create design solutions that are aimed at redeveloping the town of Preston, Lancashire, through public art, street furniture and graphic design.

Peelback Bench

Thorpe worked closely with Jo Bane on this concept and she provided the typography that is found on the base of the bench. The designers are working to apply the basic concept to other street furniture such as bike racks, tram stops, and tree wraps. They are also working with the local Council to find funding so as to introduce the products to the streets of Preston. However, the market for interesting, well designed, story-telling street furniture is universal.

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