A designer who created a chair to help stop ‘manspreading’ in public spaces has won a national prize.
Laila Laurel, who will graduate from her 3D Design and Craft degree at the University of Brighton later this month, won the Belmond Award at New Designers in London, a major showcase of work from universities across the UK.
Laila’s design – entitled ‘A Solution for Manspreading’ – is crafted so that men have to sit with their legs closed, as a way of preventing them spreading their legs and encroaching the space of others.
She has also made a second seat intended for women which, via a small piece of wood in the middle, encourages sitters to extend their legs wider apart.
Laila said: “I am completely shocked but very happy and honoured to have won the Belmond Award – and I am looking forward to designing with them this year.”
As part of her prize, Laila will be commissioned to create a product for the hotel and leisure company.
The panel of judges at New Designers said Laila’s work was: “a bold, purpose-driven design that explores the important role of design in informing space, a person’s behaviour and society issues of today.”
Of the inspiration behind her ‘A Solution for Manspreading’, Laila said: “It came both from my own experiences of men infringing on my space in public, and also from ‘The Everyday Sexism Project,’ a website founded by Laura Bates in which women self-testify about sexism they experience.
“With my chair set I hoped to draw awareness to the act of sitting for men and women and inspire discussion around this.”
Graduating Product Design students at the University won the Best Stand Award at New Designers, fulfilling the criteria of: “imaginative and cleverly presented ideas with a considered overall look and feel along with the quality of work displayed”.
Meanwhile Product Design graduand Jack Moore came runner-up in the New Designers 100% Award, which recognises emerging talented designers, for his Kohay project – a piece of public furniture that aims to encourage positive social interactions.
George Gilliat was also a runner-up in the New Designers Lego Award for Playful Creativity category, for his product Totem Warriors – a buildable figure and trading card game in which players construct and battle gods from ancient worlds.