Thursday, 1 May 2014

United in Diversity? 28 Benches for Europe Day

This post has been updated because Europe is no longer United in Diversity. Taking into account the loss of Britain and the joining of Krappistan, you might prefer to see the updated version of this story Europe Day Benches are Here Again

Did you know that May 9th is Europe Day? Yep. Has been since 1950. 

I thought it best to have an independent editor for this post so I've invited Blogda, who comes from the nation of Krappistan, which, for a variety of reasons is not in the European Union; I think this will make her unbiased. 

Blogda: I show bench. I do straight-line talk.

That's great, Blogda. That's just what we want: one bench from each of the 28 countries of the European Union and not too much waffle. 

Blogda: Luxembourg. Is strange country. Very small. Very rich. But like Krappistan.

Well, it's an interesting bench, Blogda. But I thought you came from a large, very poor country. How is Luxembourg like Krappistan?

Blogda: Pipes. We have this for rubbish waste. 

Yes, but this pipe bench is outside the Luxembourg Philharmony, where there are lots of amazing benches. Do you have a concert hall in Krappistan?

No. Just pipes. For sewerage. Also for hiding things to sell on black market.

Black bench. Very nice. From Latvia. Made from volcano. 

Yes, this is the Manu Nest from Maffam Freeform in Riga, where Latvian designer Raimonds Cirulis has created unique furniture from volcanic fibers. 

Blogda: Too much information. Just bench.

We want some information, Blogda. It's not enough just to show the benches. We want to know something about the designers and what the benches are about. 

No deviation. Just bench. 

Now Austria. Light bench.

Yes, this is Manfred Kielnhofer's Glowing Light Ball Bench which      

Blogda: No bench like this in my country. Need electric for hospital, not bench.

Yes, that makes sense. I guess you don't have much power in Krappistan?

Blogda: Have lots of power. You hiss me off, I crush you.

Hmmmm. I think we ought to move on with the benches. 

Blogda: Belgium. Black bench. I lust for this.

Yes, I like this too. It's a carbon fiber bench made by Peter Donders, a designer in Belgium.

Readers might like to know that there is a design competition going on right now - Benches for Europe - in which designers from all over the EU are invited to submit their design ideas for benches in Strasbourg. The winners get five thousand Euros each. 

I make Krappistan bench. Get five thousand Euros. Buy nuclear power plant in my country. 

Krappistan isn't in the EU though. Designers have to be from one of the 28 EU nations.

And anyway, the deadline date has already passed. 

So why you tell me? You hiss me off. 

Sorry, Blogda. Shall we get on with our EU benches?

Portugal. Many colours. But no black.

I love how trees are growing inside these benches. 

Slovenia. No trees. Stol. 

I think you mean stool? Stool is another word for chair.

Blogda: I no lie. Stol. Name LLStol.

Oh, I see what you mean. It's the LLStol by designers Luka Locicnik and Tadej Glazar in Ljubljana.

Also Estonia stool. 

Black. White. Red. I like black.

This is the Peatakana, designed by Tarmo Luisk in Estonia. 

I say this already. I mean what I say. Why you repeat? 

Sorry, Blogda. I just want to be sure we describe the benches accurately and don't lose the thread of the story.

Thread bench. Sweden.

I love this bench by Ola Giertz. We've had this before on Benchsite, for the Red Benches in February.

Blogda: Same bench. Same joke. 

Yes, there are a few benches which I've shown elsewhere on Benchsite. For example, this intriguing white Bench Chair by Thomas Schnur in Germany. 

Is bench or is chair? 

Well, that's an interesting question, often raised by arty benches throughout Europe. 

This orange one is in the Netherlands.

Netherlands has blog already. Dutch designer alphabet.

Yes, that's true. I've already shown some of the vast array of interesting benches in the Netherlands.

And Greece. Done already.

We still need to show a Greek bench for the European Union. I like this one from the Athens Benchmark competition in 2010.

Some letters is upside down. 

That's how it's supposed to be.

OK. Now Poland. Pretty. 

Looks like cage. Maybe I keep my hens there.

No, Blogda, this is not a cage. This is the Undo bench by Polish designer Kamil Kiendzierski, who won an award for it. 

My imaginary friend Miggy loves this bench. She would like to have it outside her cake shop.

This one Miggy is too fat. And cake shop is rubbish. Cakes is much better in Krappistan.

Miggy would be broken-hearted to hear that, Blogda. 

Broken bench I have. Finland.

Broken wood. Ragged ends. Very good. 

I show Krappistan bench now.

There are two problems here, Blogda. One is that Krappistan is not in the EU so it cannot have a bench in this story. 

And two is that I know this is in Austria because I took the photo myself at a pub along the Danube.

Ok. Is Austria bench then.

You've already done the Austrian bench. Please move on now with the other countries. 

Cutter bench. Denmark.

This is exquisite! My two husbands have a workshop. I wish His Excellency would make me a bench like this.

Your husband like Napoleon. Small man. Big opinions.

Well, sometimes, perhaps . . .

Bratislava. Slovakia. Napoleon.

You made a smooth link there, Blogda. Good work.

Now France. Metro bench. Quite nice.

Yes, these are in the metro station Champs-Elysees Clemenceau in central Paris. 

No good for watering mule. Big hole in dishes.

Yes, but of course they're not intended to hold water.

Mule needs water

What mule? We don't have a mule in Fribble-under-Par.

Unless you mean Lord Brassica's horse Tonks?

That man Broccoli very bad farmer. Paid to grow nothing.

Well, yes, that's how the European Union does things sometimes. They pay farm subsidies to regulate the market.

Stupid. And that mule useless. Does no ploughing. Make meal with it. 

In the EU we don't eat horses. Well, at least some of us don't. Not if we can help it. 

In Krappistan we eat everything. Even mushroom bench from Czech Republic.

I'm sure you don't eat benches, Blogda. I think you're full of Blarney. 

That's a bench in Ireland, by the way.

Lots of castles in Ireland. Lots of blarney. No snakes. 

That's true. And speaking of creepy crawlies, here's a millipede bench from designer Aleksandr Dubickij in Lithuania.

Head of insect missing. Maybe somebody eat head.

I'm not sure how we got onto this topic.

Serpent in Spain. Lots of colours. Not black.

Yes, this is the beautiful mosaic Serpentine Bench by Antonio Gaudi. It's in the Park Guell in Barcelona. Gaudi is well known for

I show bench. You keep mouth closed.

Like bench in Hungary.

Oh, I see what you mean. The bench is closed up and locked. Clever. I'm going to add this to my blog about anti-social benches

Decision daft.

Well, you might think so but I'm always combing the internet for interesting benches. 

You want comb. Here's comb.

Oh wow! This is a design by Onar Cobanli in Como in Italy. He's a prolific bench designer with over one hundred bench designs to his name. 

Too much talk. Not enough bench. Still many countries to show bench. 

Krappistan bench is very nice.

photo by Sheila B.

Excuse me Blogda, but you can't show a Krappistani bench here.This is a blog about European Union benches. Krappistan, as you know, isn't in the EU. 

But very good benches in Krappistan. No problem.
It's broken.

Everything broke in Krappistan. Is no bad thing. My country very good for EU. Krappistan make great new country.

I don't think Krappistan is on the waiting list for EU membership. It isn't even being considered. It isn't even a glint in the eye of an EU commissioner.

Romania. One of the latest countries to join.

Why you not let Krappistan in?

Well, we're leaning towards opening up the EU, that's for sure.  

I pray my country joins EU.

This church isn't in Krappistan though. It's in Bulgaria. Everything in the church is painted because an unpainted wall is thought to attract evil. 

Evil is no good. I crush it. 

By the way, Blogda, I don't even know where Krappistan is.

Now I show you my house. Very nice. Air condition.

photo by Sheila B

This isn't your house. It's one of those lovely shelters in Cyprus where the benches are protected from either rain or sun. They even have them at cemeteries.

photo by Sheila B

I light a candle for Krappistan to join EU.

You're hissing me off now, Blogda. This bench is in a museum in Malta. It is nothing to do with Krappistan.

Please will you finish up showing the European Union benches.

Croatia bench. Man waiting to join EU.

This is Antun Gustav Matos, a Croatian poet. And Croatia has already joined the EU, in 2013. 

OK, Switzerland.

Switzerland isn't in the EU. They never wanted to be.

OK, Norway.

Norway isn't in the EU either. They voted not to be. And, eventually, UK voters may have a referendum and decide if they are staying or going. 

Good. UK not united in diversity so no bench for UK.

Benches of EU countries all done now. 

Alright, we'll celebrate Europe Day now. 

Here's to you and I being un-united in diversity.

I want double pay for work because so much problems.

A lot of these problems were of your own making though.

You don't pay, I crush you.

Here's a present for you: a bench to take home.

Good. I enter in EU competition.

Or sell on black market. 

Blogda and her cow Larry in the Krappi capital 


The idea of the European Union was formed in 1950 with the motto United in diversity. The EU certainly is diverse: it currently includes 28 nations with 503 million people and 24 languages. The first six countries joined in 1952: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In 1973 they were joined by Denmark, Ireland, and the UK, then Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. Another nine years went by before Sweden, Finland, and Austria joined. In 1989 the Iron Curtain came down and Eastern European countries began joining. In 2004 there was a huge expansion of new countries, including Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 and finally, Croatia in 2013. Who's next? Bets are on Iceland and Montenegro. Krappistan's admittance is highly unlikely.  

Blogda is one of the many stroppy and difficult guest editors I have had to put up with on Benchsite. I first used animal editors dot com, which sent me the lazy cat Meredith and the irritable Eddie, who turned my St. George's Day dragon blog into a primate nightmare. I then tried vegetable editors dot com, who sent me the disastrous Jench de Bench from Potirons in France. Just when I despaired, I found the lovely Ursula, who is our Unicorn in Residence here in Fribble-under-Par. She did romantic white benches and the beautiful peace benches for World Peace Day. Couldn't you just do with some peace? I could. Unfortunately, I contracted Blogda to come back to do Cow Benches in June. She's bringing her cow, Larry, from Krappistan. 

Luxembourg - The purple pipe benches are behind the Philharmony of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where there are lots of brilliant benches from different designers. These were photographed by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner from Wellington, New Zealand,  Kristina takes brilliant bench pictures, which I have used many times.  It's worth knowing that Luxembourg people speak more foreign languages than any other European country. Their own language is Luxembourgish but they also need to speak German and French. And quite a few of them also speak English. And Italian. And Dutch. 

Holly Hinton from Staffordshire runs Holly's Hobbies, a shop full of unique cross stitch charts featuring words, characters, symbols and geeky stuff, all available to download instantly. The 28 EU flags are beautifully done and you can't help but wonder how it will be until the Krappistan flag has to be added.

Latvia - Maffam Freeform in Riga is the only workshop in the world manufacturing furniture from volcanic basalt fibre. The talented Latvian designer Raimonds Cirulis has created and patented a unique furniture manufacturing technology, building furniture from basalt fibre ‘hairs’ and natural resin.M   The furniture is light and stable and has a unique basalt pattern. Each one, including the Manu Nest suspended chair, is handmade & unique.

Austria - The Glowing Light Ball Bench is by Manfred "KILI" Kielnhofer (b 1967), an Austrian painter, sculptor, and photographer. He is a freelance artist in Linz, where in 2005 he launched Gallery Artpark. His most famous work is Guardians of Time, which also features on Benchsite and is one of my favourite sculptures. Guardians of Time   His Glowing Light Ball Bench is a simple yet elegant design consisting of three light balls and two wooden boards. The artist intends that the work offers both intellectual debate and philosophical stimulation.
And if you're wanting more traditional alpine benches from Austria, follow our bench-seeking travels from summer 2014 at

Portugal - the coloured ball benches in Cais do Sodre in Lisbon were photographed in 2010 by xpgomes4.

Belgium - Peter Donders (b 1965) is a furniture designer and craftsman who creates 3D design, modelling, prototyping, manufacturing and visualisation. He also does jewelry, ceramics, shelves, and lighting.
His works in carbon fiber and aluminium include the black carbon fiber bench made of 320 meters of fiber and weighing just six kilos.Peter explains that what started out as an experiment, playing around with the limits of technology, manufacturing and materials and bouncing up against what might still just be possible, or not, turned into a whole new art form. Fiberture?

Slovenia - The LLStol chair was designed by Luka Locicnik and Tadej Glazar   It's from the Silent Revolutions travelling exhibition  MAO stands for Muzej za arhitekturo in oblikovanje, the Museum of Architecture and Design, a national Slovene museum for architecture, industrial design, graphic design, visual communication and photography. MAO introduces the past work of architects, designers, and photographers as useful experiences, knowledge, and ideas for a better future. It houses nearly 150,000 different objects and almost all the prominent Slovene architects and designers from the twentieth century, as well as many photographers, are represented in the museum’s holdings, totalling more than a thousand artists altogether. 

Estonia - Made from recyclable materials, the Peatakana is a multifunctional and durable plastic bench for use in a yard of a home or in a public space. Inspired by windy Tallinn, it is weatherproof and can be used in three different sitting positions. It can be lighted for outside use. The designers of Peatakana are Tarmo Luisk, Margus Triibmann, and Ville Jehe. 

Sweden - The fabulous Thread Bench (2012) is by Ola Giertz, whose studio is in Helsingborg, Sweden. Ola's designs are characterized by clarity, simplicity and a utilitarian approach. He creates timeless products in which design, material and form are matched in harmonious dimensions and which are designed to meet the needs of the user. He designs furniture, interiors and products. He sees his work as playful and experimental, gently twisting everyday objects and situations, but also materials and manufacturing processes, in new directions. 

Germany - German designer Thomas Schnur's Benchchair (2010) is fascinating from all angles. It appeared previously on Benchsite in the story of romantic white benches. Thomas Schnur (b 1983) lives and works in Cologne. He explains that in his projects he always attempts to negotiate with the product he is to design. He negotiates on the weighting of materials, manufacturing, appearance, meaning and function. He explains that the Benchchair takes its inspiration from the famous Monobloc Chair but puts the associations that any chair evokes into a new context. Its curved shape is contorted into a voluminous body, there by creating an abstract space, such that observers are confronted with a transformed hybrid. Most recently, Thomas Schnur was nominated by the German Design Council for the German Design Award Newcomer 2014. 

Netherlands - the orange Art bench is by Dutch artist Frank Halmans (b 1963) whose work explores themes of domesticity and memory through his sculptural installations. 
Art bench is in the park near the Ganskuyl in Dorrestein in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. It was photographed by Willem Nabuurs in 2010.  We've had glorious orange benches on Benchsite before. And for a complete A-Z of Dutch benches, see 

Greece - the black and white Athens Benchmark bench comes from the 2010 Athens Benchmark competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire and supported by design journalists from  The winning benches from the competition can be seen at   For lots more lovely Greek benches, see

Poland - Kamil Kiendzierski is a Polish designer who makes wire furniture with spacial compositions. His prize-winning Undo Bench was made in 2010 and appeared on Benchsite before. He explains that wire furniture allows the designer to make spacial compositions. He was also a finalist in a competition at the Institute of Industrial Design in Warsaw.

Finland - Jalmari Laihinen works with wood and likes to explore the natural properties of wood with all its cracks, breaks and defects. His Broken collection, launched in March 2014, features furniture and items which are 'broken' but made to last: tables, shelves, benches, a carved wood bowl   For Jalmari, the little quirks of wood and its dynamic qualities offer endless inspiration and amazement. 

In 2009 Mungo and I cycled along the Danube bike path from Passau in Germany to Vienna. We cycled on both sides of the river and on a very rainy day we stopped at a pub at Marsbach where the bar stools were decorated with skirts and pantaloons. I regret that I did not get the name of the place but it's on the north side of the river between Weseneufer and the famous Schlogen Meander. 

Denmark - the elegant Cutter Bench was created by Niels Hvass in 1999. It is part of his Cutter Collection for Skagerak, a Danish manufacturer whose designs are aesthetic and timeless with the consideration of generations to come.  The Cutter Bench comes in black, teak and oak. Niels Hvass now works with Christina Strand at

Slovakia - Apologies to my husband, His Excellency, who is nothing like Napoleon. The statue of Napoleon leaning over a bench is in Bratislava, photographed in 2012 by KamrenB, a student from Columbus, Missouri who started photography as a hobby in 2011. 

France - the Paris metro benches at Champs Elysees Clemenceau station were photographed by A. Currell in 2012.  A. Currell is apparently sometimes known as Ward and is way over age 21. He has an eclectic photostream which includes much travel, a few benches, and lots of cats. In one album he has Catified himself and his friends. Definitely worth a look. 

Czech - The mushroom shelter is the Amanita shelter in the Debr Valley, Mšeno, Mělník District, Central Bohemian Region, in the Czech Republic. It was photographed in 2010 by ŠJů (cs:ŠJů,_Deb%C5%99,_Muchom%C5%AFrka,_pohled_nap%C5%99%C3%AD%C4%8D_%C3%BAdol%C3%ADm.jpg

Ireland - The Blarney Castle bench is outside Blarney Castle near Cork in Ireland. You're meant to kiss the blarney stone, which apparently gives you the gift of the gab. I kissed it back in 1977 and I'm still waiting. The photograph is by Matt Brown, editor of and an all-round Londonophile.  For some brilliant Irish St. Patrick's Day benches see

Lithuania - the Millipede Bench is from Lithuanian designer Aleksandr Dubickij in Vilnius.  He works through the Behance creative groups at

Spain - The much-photographed Serpentine Bench by Antonio Gaudi is in Park Guell in Barcelona. There are many angles of it, all beautiful. This one was photographed by Alex Proimos in 2009. Originally from Sydney, Alex lives in Utrecht.  

Hungary - The closed and locked bench was photographed in Martonhegy in Budapest in 2007. photographer is Helga, from Budapest. I wonder if the closed bench is still there and if so, whether it is still closed? For more about social and anti-social benches see    

Italy - inspired by, yes, a comb, the purple Comb Clone bench (2010) is made from tubular metal which is bended, welded, and then painted or chromed. It comes from designer Onar Cobanli in Como, Italy. Born in Istanbul in 1984, Onar studied design in Italy and got a PhD for his research into design competitions. He has featured in many magazines, including Milano Mod in April 2012 (that's him on the cover).   Onar Cobanli's company is, which has the most amazing range of products I've seen, including more than 100 benches. And chaise lounges. And sofas. And chairs. Don't get me started on chairs. For some very tasty Italian benches see

The broken bench isn't in Krappistan, as you might have guessed. It was photographed by Tomwsulcer in Briant Pond Park, Summit, New Jersey in 2009.

Romania - the bench of Romania's flag colours was photographed in 2005 in Cluj, Romania.  The photographer is Julie Kertesz, who describes herself as a Hungarian, born in Transylvania. She lived in France for 45 years, retired and started taking photos at age 70. She now lives in London where she writes a blog  Il y a de la vie après 70 ans

Two guys leaning on a bench in Ipiros, Greece, photographed by Ioannis Sachanidis in 2009 

The man pointing to a map is William J. Young of Drouin, Victoria in a photo taken in 1944. Drouin is obviously not in Krappistan; he's pointing to a map in Australia. The photo comes from the National Library of Australia on the glorious Flickr Commons site at

Cyprus - The benches under wooden shelters are two of many lovely photos taken by my friend Sheila B, who lives in Cyprus part of the year. Like many Cyprus benches, they're made of local wood and are a simple design. Sheila also photographed the broken bench shown earlier in the story.

Malta - the bench with wax candles is in a museum in Gozo, Gharb, in Malta. 
It was photographed by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner in 2005. Kristina, from Wellington, New Zealand, takes brilliant bench pictures which I have used many times.

Bulgaria - The church in Bulgaria covered in frescoes was photographed by Dennis Jarvis, who is from Halifax, Canada. Dennis has visited 55 countries and published many of his photographs.  

Croatia - The seated man is Antun Gustav Matoš (1873–1914), a Croatian writer. The statue was photographed in Gornji grad, Zagreb in 2007 by Green Melinda  Melinda lives in Boston and describes herself as a writer, of sorts. She has a nice set of photos from Croatia on her Flickr photostream. 

Switzerland - James Forsyth from Geneva describes himself as an amateur enthusiast. He photographed these very icy benches in in 2012 at Versoix near Geneva. He has photographed many icy things which are well worth a look. For more lovely benches from Switzerland see

Norway -  The bright red Norwegian church benches were photographed in Narviks, Norway in 2010 by  Xauxa Håkan Svensson, who lives in Sweden. He takes photographs of buildings and churches, mainly in Sweden, Peru and Spain.  I saw them at

United Kingdom - since Benchsite is a UK blog, I really couldn't expect Blogda to select just ONE bench from the whole of the UK and the thousands of benches I've shown and filed. If forced to choose, I suppose I would choose one of the many interesting benches from here on Paradise Island

The glass of Europe we celebrated with was the EU's poster for Europe Day 2010.

The bench I gave to Blogda at the end is an old one I saw on ebay many years ago. It's black so I knew she would like it. 

The city of Strasbourg serves as a link between European capitals and the headquarters of European Institutions within the EU. The recent Benches for Europe competition is seeking 28 design pieces from young artistic designers within the countries of the EU. The winning benches will be installed outdoors close to the European Institutions on riverbanks, parks, in front of the Parliament. Each piece must show some aspects of modern creation from the designer's country of origin while bringing elegance, comfort and rich materials to blend into the city's environment. And yes, each winner will get five thousand Euros. Unfortunately though, the deadline for applications was March 15, 2014.

If at the end of this story you have a lust for further travel, you can go lots of places here on Benchsite. Try Turkey. Or Ireland. See a fiesta of Mexican benches, for example, or an alphabet of Dutch benches. Get high on alpine benches, or tasty Italian ones. Every summer Miggy and Mungo and I go on our bench-finding missions; see our impossible Greek mission, or what happened when we cycled down the Danube. And for some truly amazing Japanese benches, see

For an even wider selection of benches around the world, see bus stop benches, bridge benches, or Mariner Mikey will show you benches from all the oceans of the world 


  1. Well, "Romania flag bench. Good nationalism" NO!!! It is NOT good. It is provocation.
    Besides, my name is misspelled, my name is Julie KERTESZ, living now in London.

    Very interesting mix of benches, otherwise, and great idea to blog of them.

  2. Sorry for misspelling your name, Julie. I have now corrected it and amended the text.

    Best wishes,

    Miggy (on behalf of Blogda, who was speaking about the bench!)