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Brief Published: 25 Oct 2018

Furniture for Connection & Inclusion

Ella Westlund

Consumers are seeking to break away from screen media, and connect with one another. As explored in our S/S 20 Design Direction Arouse, designers are prioritising face-to-face interactions for a renewed appreciation of what it is to be human. We explore how this translates to furniture design.

Swedish designer Ella Westlund’s experiences as a care-centre helper and the sister of someone with Down’s syndrome inspired her to create an inclusive sofa for people of mixed ability.

The sofa has upholstered seating on each end with a central gap that can comfortably fit a wheelchair. The design allows people of different abilities to come together at an equal level, without any physical expression of height or dominance. Moreover, the central position of this gap allows users to be surrounded by loved ones – exuding a sense of safety and security.

Similarly, new UK brand Modular by Mensah released a furniture range that’s specifically designed to encourage social, face-to-face interaction. Designer Kusheda Mensah created the Mutual collection in response to what she felt was a breakdown in human relationships, brought on by social and digital media.

The capsule features wavy coral and arch-shaped seating pieces upholstered in a mix of fabric and leather. The odd silhouettes give the collection a puzzle-piece-like quality that prompts users to rearrange the furniture. It also encourages them to consider a more experimental approach to conventional seating arrangements – which in turn helps to establish a more relaxed and dynamic environment.

For more on how furniture can satisfy consumers’ desire to be social, see our Furniture & Lighting report from London Design Festival 2018.

Modular by Mensah