Once upon a time, given my old design snob tendencies, the only benches I’d consider owning were the classic slat bench, the Platform bench, by George Nelson for Herman Miller and the leather Mies van der Rohe Bench for Knoll. Both, shown below, are still worthwhile investments, but if you’re looking for a new modern bench, there’s no shortage of beautiful benches by fabulous designers out there.
Here are 10 unusual functional benches available for purchase that would look beautiful indoors or out.
1. The Kantbank
The Kantbank bench by miramondo is like a giant piece of shiny origami, made entirely of polished stainless steel.
Made up of a 2 mm-thick stainless steel sheet measuring 3,000 by 500 mm, the surfaces of all parts are polished.
Buy it here.
2. The Skew Bench
The Skew bench by Desu Design is one of my favorites. Designed to be a sculptural form of intersecting angular planes, the SKEW-001 draws inspiration from geological rock formations and also suggests movement. Made of certified renewable cellulose fiber and resin. It’d be stunning indoors or out.
3. Tree Trunk bench
Jurgen Bey’s tree trunk bench for Droog has been out for awhile, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.
The bench is a real tree trunk with chair backs made of bronze inserted into it. Buy it here.
4. Furniture to Garden Benches
The Gardening bench by 5.5 Designers is a concrete bench with built in areas for plants. The Furniture to garden collection consists of three bench styles and 2 chair styles as well as an end table.
The water can evacuate thanks to 2 or 4 perforations (depending upon which bench size) that are attached to the legs. Buy it here.
5. The Ordrupgaard bench
Architect Zaha Hadid’s for Mobler is a simple organic bench in solid ash.
It was initially designed as part of the interior of the annex she designed for Ordrupgaard Museum in Charlottenlund just outside Copenhagen. The bench entered PP Møbler´s collection in the spring 2006. Buy it here.
6. The Swilken bench
The Indoor/outdoor bench with ReClaimed² hardwood top and concrete or polished aluminum base by Acronym Design is a beauty. Available in various woods.
The inspiration for the form came from the Swilken Bridge on the 18th Green at St. Andrews golf course in Scotland. This bench follows those principals and uses the simplicity of form to showcase the beauty of the wood. Hidden connections keep the bench sleek. Buy it here.
I’ve blogged about them before, but can’t mention unusual benches without including the headless bovine benches by Julia Lohmann:
8. The Nea Studio water bench
Designed by Nina Edwards, is actually a concept bench, but I had to include it. It’s a concrete energy-efficient water bench is designed for public parks, cafes, outdoor train, ferry, bus stations and other waiting areas in extreme climates.
It is heated from the earth’s energy in cold climates through an underground pipe system. It is cooled in hot climates from pipes connecting to fresh water or to the existing urban water system. Read more about it here.
9. the Inner Beauty bench
The Inner Beauty Bench is crafted from laser cut plywood by Studio Bility in Iceland. With intricate interior designs, the top stays smooth and simple. Buy it here.
10. The Water Bench
The Water Web Bench by Drift Design is a polyurea and efs outdoor bench available in three different patterns and six different colors. Water is pumped from within the bench to flow through the crevices cut into the bench and then back into the sofa.
The Water bench is the first product Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn designed together. Pump and algae solvent are included with the bench. Other colors may be available upon request. Buy it here.
Also worth noting:
• Another classic bench that almost made the list: The Bertoia Slat Bench
•The Botanist Designer series of metal benches.
•The Lightbench by Frellstedt is a traditionally shaped park bench that is illuminated from within in several color options.
If you want to purchase the classic Nelson Platform bench or the Van der Rohe bench, you can find them at the Herman Miller store or any store that carries authentic Herman Miller and Knoll furniture.