A university student has designed a chair purpose built to stop blokes from manspreading.
23-year-old Laila Laurel has received the New Designers Belmond Award 2019 for this unusual chair design which is entitled ‘A Solution for Manspreading’.
The chair itself is designed so the man sitting in it has to keep his legs closed, unable to spread his legs due to its shape. Laila has also made a separate chair for women, with a wooden divide in the middle, which encourages the sitter to place their legs far apart.
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‘A Solution for Man-Spreading.’ A pair of chairs from Sycamore and Cherry wood. Thanks to all the girls and boys for coming and having a good old sit on them this week, it’s been silly! #eveydaysexism #furniture #design #craft #comingtond19 #newdesigners19 #newmakers #craftgrad
As reported by a University of Brighton press release, the judging panel described Laila’s work as being, ‘a bold, purpose-driven design that explores the important role of design in informing space, a person’s behaviour and society issues of today’.
Laila gave the following statement upon receiving her award:
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.
Laila explained she was inspired by her own experiences of men infringing on her space in public, as well as testimonies from The Everyday Sexism Project, a website where women share their personal experiences of sexism.
According to Laila:
With my chair set I hoped to draw awareness to the act of sitting for men and women and inspire discussion around this.
For those unfamiliar with the relatively new term ‘manspreading’, this is a word used to refer to men who infringe on the personal space of others by spreading their legs too wide.
This is a common complaint amongst public transport commuters, who feel manspreaders are taken up too much of the already limited space.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, manspreading can be defined as, ‘the act of a man sitting, especially on public transport, with his legs spread wide apart, in a way that means that the people next to him have less space’.
— Jason Arnopp scary scribbler (@JasonArnopp) July 15, 2019
Laila’s design has since sparked somewhat of an online debate. Some have described it as ‘clever, tongue in cheek and really thought provoking’, while others have said it fails to take into account certain parts of the male anatomy.
One person commented:
All for the feminist movement but trying to squash my testicles and/or having them overheat and having my penis popping up over the top (guessing that’s why the guys hands are covering up a bit?) I feel like is denying simple anatomical issues for men.
Love it! Demanding men to be more conscience of how they take over thoughtlessly. YES!!! I was watching a concert just the other week and this stranger was in my space with his knees wide apart. I pointed this out to him.
He thought I was being petty. NO! Being made aware of how you impact those around you should be basic; not your right to slop-over. This is a great invention/design as it does bring into awareness the issue.
As part of her prestigious award, Laila will now have the opportunity to design a product for a hotel and leisure company.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.