Saturday, 1 November 2014

Dude, where's my bench?

It's that time of year again and strange things are happening.Here on Paradise Island, some of our best benches have gone missing.

This man has looked everywhere and he can't find his bench.

photo by Matti Mattila @

I wonder if someone might have pedalled off with it?
Or driven it away?

Some benches are missing in part . . . 

. . . and some have completely disappeared.

My imaginary husband Mungo is very worried about his precious workbench. Today he moved it to a place of safety.

My other husband, His Excellency, tried to move his workbench too but as usual, things went wrong.

Benches are on the move. Today this one is strapped to a tree by the canal, but who's to say it will be here tomorrow?

Benches are more mobile than you'd think. A bench can pop up anywhere.
Some of them rock.

And some of them swing.

Some of them sail away stealthily, like Viking boats.

OK, it's Halloween and you might expect that kind of thing. I don't want to point the finger . . .

. . . but let's face it: there are pranksters about who will move anything.

And at all times of year there are clowns who enjoy stealing benches.

This clown looks too depressed to be a thief or a vandal. But you see my point: why are all these benches on the move?

I have come up with several reasons. 

The obvious one is that people are carrying them away.

When I say 'people' I mean anybody. Even a gentleman can't resist stealing a handsome bench.

When it comes to stolen benches, you're right to be suspicious.

What is this guy up to?

These guys were caught wood-handed.

Of course there may be good reason for a bench to be removed.

  Andy Roberts @   

Maintenance. OK, fair enough.

But here in Fribble-under-Par I caught Troy, wearing a tux, taking away a bench on the Esplanade. 

He said he was taking it to the Bench Oscars. Do I look like I was born yesterday?

It's interesting how people always have good reasons when you challenge them about moving a bench. These boys said they were carrying a bench to their school.

And this woman claimed to be moving house by bicycle.

Council workers just doing their job?
Yeah, right. 

Like you can just pack up a bench and take it away in a rucksack.

At least no one has tried to move these benches while people are sitting on them.

One explanation for all these movable benches is that designers too often give benches wheels.

This means they can easily be wheeled away.

Or perhaps they wheel themselves away of their own accord.

This Dutch designer was taking no chances; when making the conversion from a shopping trolley to a bench, he removed the wheels. Maybe supermarkets ought to do the same?

You can understand the need for a bench to break free. Wheel benches are historical, a legacy of the Wild West.

Many a wheel bench was carted across North America in a covered wagon, a sort of Manibench Destiny: Go West, young bench! 

Nowadays wheel benches are found in rural areas . . . 

Patrick Mackie @ Geograph

. . . and they're also popular in houses and gardens.

To prevent benches bolting, some have their wheels embedded in concrete.

Even so, concrete doesn't mean the bench won't disappear. 

You could send an international scout out looking for them but I'm not sure that would help.

You'd probably get lost yourself and then you'd need SatNav to find your way.

SatNav: where would we be without it?

Some benches are designed to be mobile.They have tyres.Or tires, as they say in some places.

This bench seems to be collecting tyres so that it can eventually make its escape.

And this bench has so many tyres it doesn't look like it's ever going to get rolling.

On the other hand, some benches are fully motorised. This Bench car is ready for a quick getaway.

This car not so much.

You could tailgate this bench for quite a long time and it's not going to pick up speed.

There's no dodging the issue: once benches go mobile you can end up with a traffic jam.

Well, my favourite garden bench is missing. And I know boot benches are made for walkin' but it's unlikely that it just walked away. 

I'm still suspicious of these woodland folk. 

I even wondered if my bench might be disguised as a picnic table under this snowdrift.

photo by Lynne Woodward

I saw these fellows down by the Esplanade and wondered if they had seen my bench.

The Pilgrim's Progress, 1673

I wanted to say Dude, where's my bench? but of course I couldn't. I said

Pray thee Good Sirs, hast thou happened upon my bench? 

They hadn't. 

There's nothing else I can do now. Life's a bench. All I've got left is this:

I'm trying to make do with a wheelbarrow but a wheelbarrow is not a bench.

Or is it?

I've put up a poster around town trying to get my bench back.

But in the meantime I'm going to call Dave and ask him to come round and bring my old garden bench back to life. 

That's if I can find him. He's got a mobile van, so like the benches, he could be anywhere.


DEĞER CENGIZ has an architecture degree from Mimar Sinan University of Istanbul. He lives and works in New York City where he runs a multi-discipline design firm, producing work in the field of architecture, interior design and product design. The brilliant lawn chaise is fully mobile and alive, in the sense that it's made from wheelbarrow parts, dirt and grass. It was exhibited at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2010. 

Matti Mattila is an amateur photographer and IT professional whose photostream shows an impressive array of benches. He photographed the man on a bench in Helsinki in May 2013. Matti's title for the photo is First of May Nap but it could also be a man looking for a bench - couldn't it?

The park full of missing benches is Triangle Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Following a murder in the park in April 2009, all the benches were taken away in a bid to cut crime. This is a move which many cities have adopted.  For an erudite and slightly peculiar discussion of social and anti-social benches, see

The photo of the missing picnic tables is one I have had for a long time. The tables were in a park in Bracknell in the UK and were removed to stop bad behaviour.  Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is something of an authority on picnic tables and he is gutted to find that picnic tables can disappear like this. On the other hand, Bracknell has the longest picnic table in Britain, celebrated with a mass community picnic in summer 2012. 

Todd in Oshkosh, Wisconsin is The Tailgate Guy. He has built 25 benches from tailgates of various kinds and they're sold on etsy  The International Scout, the Dodge and all sorts of others are on his Facebook page, where you can see the whole process from tailgate to bench  

The Couch Bike from Bike Forest in Ontario is one of many brilliant bike benches shown in a previous blog. Most bike benches move, but this one moves further than most. Brent Curry and Eivind from rode the Couch Bike through Maritime Canada in 2002. It's a handmade bike with a frame built around an old leatherette love seat. It's steered with a tiller linked to the two front wheels on either side of the couch. Bike Forest aims to promote bicycles and other human powered vehicles as a viable form of transportation. Through renting out a large diversity of well-maintained human-powered vehicles from manufacturers all over the world, Bike Forest hopes to give people a taste of the various options currently available.

C and T in Scottsdale, Arizona make personalized fishing lures, among other things. The red Chevrolet tailgate has been cut and shaped into a rustic bench with a wood slat seat made from reclaimed barn wood.On the left arm of the bench there is a bottle opener made from an old wrench.

The man with the heavy portable workbench is not actually my imaginary husband Mungo. The photograph, made in 1940, is from the wonderful Powerhouse Museum Collection. It was a gift of Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd. in 1988.

Both my husbands have workbenches but their uses are very different. While Mungo is skilled at woodcraft, His Excellency is not a very practical person so his attempts to do things end in disaster. He blames his school bench for this but I'm not sure. 

The pile of wood shown is a photograph by Lara in 2006. Lara is a casual games artist from Vancouver, who now lives in Seattle. Her albums are full of photos from Canada, the US, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.

Dutch bench designers are so exciting that I was able to make a whole alphabet of them. Rogier Martens at Studio Martens in Utrecht has created a number of exciting mobile benches, like the Wheelbench at the end of the story, and The Pop Up bench, which literally pops up out of the pavement. The Tree Bench can be easily strapped onto a tree using a suspension system. It is no challenge to just dig a hole and a install a bench. An ideal bench needs the environment and the environment needs the bench too. To achieve that goal a bench contributes to the park as a walk, sit, rest, kiss, lie, meet, watch, dog walk, day-dream, stretch, run, think, decide, smoke and lunch spot.

The Jack Rocker Joggle bench is designed for swaying, friends and fun. It's by Didi Dunphy, LLC and designer at  Remember the thrill of free time and play in your school days? Didi's designs stem from the concept of Recess and she aims to bring play and free time into home decor: I am interested in the intersection of art and design - fabricating furniture objects that facilitate an interactive cooperative playShe has some other interesting rocking benches - rockers, swings, see-saws. Her Kissing Jim bench has already been on one of Benchsite's more romantic posts.  

If you've ever been in big cities like New York you'll have seen scaffolding all over the place. It's ugly and often in the way when you walk past. But what if this scaffolding is used as a support for pop-up benches to latch onto? Softwalks is an urban innovation studio in New York. Their aim is to make shared spaces more inclusive, livable, and enjoyable. In 2012 Softwalk's green initiative came up with DIY kits so that you can latch your modular bench onto the metal beams to create an instant place to sit in a city space. It's a pilot scheme but it sounds like a great idea. 

The rocking bench chair was seen in hotel Taj Malabar in Cochin, Kerela, India in 2006. It was photographed by Wouter Hagens.

Evan Lewis is a sculptor who attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Evan and Sandra Lewis opened their furniture showroom on Chicago's North side in 2005. Here they showcase high-end furniture, lighting and objects d'art, such as the beautiful Viking boat bench, which also rocked in the Boat Benches blog.

The man on a bench with a pink person pointing at him was photographed in Berlin in 2007 by Christian Guthier, who is a graphic designer. It's one of a Pink Tape Trail from Typo Berlin 2007. There are some fabulous photos of objects and events in this photostream including one that is close to my heart - vegetables.

The disturbing clown picture is a favourite on Benchsite and introduces the post on miserable benches for Blue Monday.   Rob snapped the clown on a bench in City Hall Park in New York City in July 2013. I'm one of many people who has added this to their favourites. Rob has lots of candid images from the streets in his photostream, including people sitting, sleeping, and doing all manner of peculiar things on benches. NYC - what a city! 

Pascal, aka, Pasukaru does a lot of work with star wars Lego clones. Quite a few of them are doing something interesting on benches. This particular couple are Bench Monday movers but apparently the clones didn't get the bench moved in time for a proper bench monday shot. Pascal says they are very sorry and promise to do better next Monday.

The sculpture man carrying away a bench is from from the outdoors sculpture exhibition of the Swiss Triennial of Sculpture, which took  place in 2009 in Bad Ragaz and in Vaduz in Switzerland. It was photographed by the_blue, whose photostream includes glorious photos from all over the world.

Simon James is the guy crouching behind the bench looking strangely suspicious (the guy, not the bench). The photo looking over a wall for Bench Monday in November 2010. Simon lives in Gateshead UK with his lovely wife Claire and his dog Alfie. He mostly works from home (research and consultancy) which means he can listen to  music all day long and also make forays out to photograph benches.

The two wood-carved people carrying a bench are raganu kalnas - characters from Lithuanian folklore. They are at Witch Hill in Juodkrante, where a forest trail of sculptures was created in 1979. This photo is from the Yew Tree Nights blogspot, which is written and beautifully illustrated by Jodi LeBigre. Jodi is a painter and printermaker, born in Canada and currently living in Scotland via France and Japan. Her photographs, illustrations and writing make for a fascinating blog.  

The Bench removed for maintenance sign was seen in Wanstead, London by Andy Roberts in 2009 and I saw it at  Andy works with online communities, research and technology. His blog is at   

Troy breezed onto Paradise Island this summer and he's made quite an impact with the ladies, especially Lady Jessica Brassica. The two of them spent most of the summer in her luxury beach hut. Recently he appeared as a model of warm woolly jumpers. He's normcore. Apart from that, all we know about him is this: 1) he comes from Dry Heaves, Minnesota, where he learned to read poetry in aparticularly alluring voice  2) he never wears shoes  3) he is extremely polite and calls ladies Ma'm 4) he speaks fluent Spanish  5) he carries a manbag filled with books, a violin and a ladder in case anyone needs to be rescued.  

The photo of the boys and the benches is by Albert Gonzalez Farran from UNAMID The boys moving benches were in Sudan in April 2012 when ten new classrooms opened at Abu Shouk camp. Abu Shouk is a camp for Internal Displaced People (IDP), North Darfur. The new classrooms were sponsored by UNAMID, the United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). With 26,000 personnel, UNAMID is the largest peacekeeping mission in existence worldwide. 

Debbie from Lancaster is the woman towing a bench with a bike. In December 2012 she actually moved house entirely by bike, an admirable effort to be green. Her blog says it took six days and eleven trips to move three and a half miles from one place to another. Somehow I doubt that house moving by bike is going to catch on. 

When Camden Council in London removed some of their public benches it was time for the Guerilla Benchers to step in. They turned up at 7 am armed with 18v hammer drills and two benches to be re-installed. Due to their cunning disguises in high visibility vests, the guerilla benchers were not questioned by anyone as they installed the benches. Unfortunately though, the drills ran out of batteries just after the first bench had been installed so in true workman style they retired to a cafe for a fry-up breakfast and cup of tea whilst the batteries re-charged. The missing benches were duly replaced and all was well with the world. The guerilla benchers would like to make it clear that they have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with Space Have a look at their website and decide for yourself.

The Built to Resist backpack sofa is an amazing thing. It has loads of pockets and pouches for your stuff, but still manages to foldup as a backpack. It's a 2010 collaboration between backpack makers Eastpak and Belgian designers Quinze and Milan. I saw it on the ever-surprising  It's one of many brilliant red benches.

The Bench is Tippy warning sign was photographed by Mal Peffs in 2009 Mal is much travelled. Her photostream has a very colourful virgin parade, houses in New York City, Amsterdam's Governor's Island, and more than a few benches from all over the world.  

The pretty rustic cart-style settee bench is from Coast to Coast Imports in Memphis, Tennessee. It's called the Jadu Accents Rustic Cart-Style Settee cart Bench and is made from weathered wood with upholstered cushions & wheels. 

The pallet bench on wheels is one of a wide range range of furniture and other useful things made from pallets. Sheds, gardens, panelling - they can make anything from pallets. I often turn to this site for inspiration.

Etienne Reijnder is another brilliant Dutch designer from my Alphabet of Dutch Benches. His Toosh-e is an ex-shopping trolley converted into a bench. Etienne describes himself as a headstrong designer, who especially loves to walk the road of sidetracks and loves challenges. I believe in simple work. The design and material must fit in with the thought process, so don't make it prettier or uglier than it needs to be. I work very crisp, and pure. His website is at

The two benches with wheels behind them create an interesting illusion. The photograph is by Andrea de Poda and was seen in Genoa, Italy in 2007. He lives in Pesaro and does computer stuff. His profile says Life is random. Are you? 

2014 is The Year of the Horse so horse benches and all things equine have already been covered here on Benchsite. But of course, as horses are mobile, you'd expect to see some of them again, which is why the horse drawn carriage bench in a countryside background is here again. It's by Christopher Meredith, who lives in Jackson, Mississippi. Among other subjects, his photostream has sets of a Mississippi tea party and a snow storm in Mississippi in 2010.

The single wagon wheel bench is located in Scotland and is dedicated to the memory of the late Dan and Peggy Harvey from Creggan, Southend. It was photographed for Geograph in 2006 by Patrick Mackie.

Amy C says photography is her life. She sells matt prints, canvas prints, prints on wood or slate, and prints on gift items such as phone cases, mugs, card, notepads and other items. Amy lives in Virginia and photographs local sites. That means gorgeous autumn landscapes, the Potomac river, Arlington cemetery, and, of course, The White House. But she also travels and photographs what she finds. She saw the wagon wheel bench in Old Town, San Diego.

Masta Hanky's photograph is called The Wheels of the Bench Keep on Turnin'. Only they don't, because they are embedded in a concrete bench. Or maybe they do? With mobile benches you never can tell. They were photographed at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City in 2009. 

Sassy Monkey at Sassy Monkey Media is a web and print designer, photaag, and freakbike builder. In 2008 he and his mates built the kinetic vehicle which looks kind of like a bench on two tyres. It's the Krank-Boom-Clank "Hennepin Crawler", built for the Krank-Boom-Clank Handcar Regatta

The bench burdened by old tires/tyres is by Ellen, who I think is from Chicago. She calls it, quite rightly, Tyres in Need of Rest

The very large bench made up entirely of tyres is at the Rainforest biome at Eden Project in Cornwall. It was photographed in 2007 by Glamhag, who is a member of the wonderful Bench Whores group on Flickr.

The brilliant Bench dot car was photographed in Salzburg in 2009 by Caleb Maclellan. Caleb's photostream is at  Caleb is an extremely well travelled freelance programmer who lives in Colorado. His photostream includes glorious photos of the Alps in Germany and Switzerland. Find out what happens when a Swiss policeman pursued Miggy and Mungo through the Alps last summer. 

To prove the point that mobile benches come and go you need look no further than the beautiful vintage red car metro rail bench, which was designed by artist Gilbert "Magú" Luján. It was seen at Hollywood and Vine in 2008 and photographed by Matthew E Cohen. Matthew reports that when he went there again in August 2011, all the car benches had been removed.

Bill and Vicki T from Rochelle, Illinois were at a flea market in July when they saw this splendid Jeep tailgate bench. Bill and Vicki are grandparents of five and great-grandparents of twins so as you'd expect, their photostream is full of busy family events and getting out and about.

The PlusZ Ranch in Redmond, Oregon is just a little bit western. Inspired by the nature and history of the Wild West, the creative people at the PlusZ Ranch use old stuff like cowboy ropes, worn horseshoes, barnwood, and antique barbed wire to make lovely, rustic things. One of them is the Cowboy boots bench, which reminds me of a gas station we used to go to in Seattle when I was a child. The gas pumps were under the cowboy hat and the cashier lived in the boots. Boy howdy, we loved going there! Sorry, I digress. The PlusZ Ranch shop is at 

The two woodland folk carrying a heavy log bench away are the same guys referred to earlier. The photo, Long Bench, was photographed by IceM626 on his visit to Lithuania in 2013. Other albums in his photostream include New Orleans, Poland and Utah.

The picnic table under a snowdrift was photographed by Lynne Woodward, who lives in Kiruna in Sweden. The snowfall in February 2015 was such that all the benches disappeared. 

The pilgrims tried to help me but they genuinely didn't know what happened to my bench. And, behold, as they came up with him, he made them a very low conge is from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1673).

The bench with overgrown ivy is a photo I have had for a long time; it has probably disappeared by now. I don't have a reference for it but if you recognise the bench and/or the ivy, please let me know.

I photographed the pretty wheelbarrow of flowers in Fiskardo, Kefalonia last summer when Miggy and Mungo and I were on our annual bench-finding mission. We didn't have a lot of luck bench-wise but there was a lot of sun, sea and arguments. You can see what we got up to at

I saw Dave's van recently when I was in Devizes in Wiltshire. A mobile bench restoration service - what a brilliant idea! 

No comments:

Post a Comment