Like a functioning plumbing system, park benches are one of those fixtures we take for granted—until they aren’t there. But an out-of-the-ordinary iteration of the ho-hum park bench by French designer Isabelle Daëron is drawing double takes by the dozen.
The sculptural bench, called Bibliophonie, plays tunes and displays text from a database of open-source media managed by the L’Autre Lieu Library in Le Rheu, Bretagne, France, where the bench is located. Designed to attract visitors to the library, the public bench animates at the push of a button. It is curved at one end—perhaps a somewhat questionable bid at promoting an intimate, roundtable feel among total strangers—and has a raised section at the other for lying down or using as an armrest.
Foreseeable issues of space hogging aside, the bench is designed to connect the library with the nearby community center, youth center, town hall and retirement home and integrate the newly constructed library as a community fixture. “The project had to be an invitation to enter the building,” Daëron wrote on her website.
Featuring a mosaic backsplash-cum-backrest of overlapping blue and green ovals, the bench is equipped with a lamp, and serves as a light source at night. Content for playback is regularly updated by library staff, and in the medium-term, will be supplied with musical tracks created by city associations and students at the nearby inter-communal music school.