Seattle Design Festival 2014: "Pop-Up! Street Furniture"

Seattle, Washington


LMN Culture


Team: Matthew Zinski, Paul Davison, Julia Reeve, Anna Marie Golden, Sheena Hewett

Owner: Mighty House Construction

Photographer: Trevor Dykstra

Smaller Smarter Seattle, a living pavilion, allows community members to express what an equitable Seattle might look like and how they could live with less.

The project was a collaborative design-build for the 2015 Seattle Design Festival (SDF): Design for Equity. Smaller Smarter was located in Occidental Park in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood during the SDF Block Party Sept 12-13, and relocated to the Ballard neighborhood for the international PARK(ing) Day on Sept 18. Smaller Smarter Seattle was inspired by city goals and policies related to equity, housing affordability, and environmental sustainability in addition to the Design for Equity theme.

The built piece comprised eight interconnecting modules approximately 18”x18”x36” and were constructed from reclaimed wood dunnage. Allowing for dynamic transformation of the piece, the sturdy reclaimed wood shell protects and conceals a curved surface made from 3Form plastic and decorated with colorful Seattle Design Festival graphics, encouraging new configurations through playful discovery.

Through this design we posed questions of:

  • How can street furnishings be assembled and configured by the public user?
  • Can design help us discover clever and novel ways of seeing the world around us?
  • Will the ebb and flow of a people respond (or modify) to the furniture?
  • Can we playfully engage the public with functional products?

Born out of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between students, professionals, designers, manufacturers, and contractors, the team worked together from early visioning through construction and installation. This allowed design concepts, construction, and delivery to be considered holistically. Removing traditional divisions between design and construction provided a great opportunity to learn from one another and expresses the festival’s mission to promote design and its transformative benefits, not just for the public, but also to the construction industry.

While built for the festival, the projects flexibility and scale has allowed it to continue to be integrated as street furniture in multiple contexts around the city including festivals, bus stops, conferences, and parks…popping-up all over!