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Beginning in the late sixteenth century, the roots of modern urbanism began taking hold in cities across Northern Europe, with grid-like developments intended to strategically interconnect commerce, infrastructure and housing into new and rational visions of life. The urban grid plays prominent in Antwerp-based nortstudio’s Urban Grid Bench Series, a seating system inspired by the inter-connectivity of modern urbanity.

From overhead, the grid and groove references the metal grates found across cities the world over.

Couple and nortstudio design partners Jef De Brabander and Kathleen Opdenacker reference three primary shapes inspired by the “rough forms and materials scattered around construction sites” as the base foundation of their indoor/outdoor bench system. Each piece is scored at the top with shallow grid-work, allowing each component to connect securely utilizing a fourth piece – a grid plane constructed with anodized aluminum (outdoor) or steel (indoor). The Mondrian-like extrusion of shape and colors turns the graphic into the practical.

Brabander and Opdenacker envision the weatherproof anodized aluminum version as a practical reconfigurable solution suited for public spaces, “such as museums and parks”, while the wood and steel version could find home in residential applications. In either case, the Urban Shapes offers the ability to plan zoning like any real urban grid, an example of “fun” operating within the context of the functional.

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