Clothing designed to fight back against intentionally uncomfortable furniture

I like Sarah Ross' line of leisure jogging suits made to counteract anti-sleeping benches.
Archisuit consists of an edition of four leisure jogging suits made for specific architectural structures in Los Angeles. The suits include the negative space of the structures and allow a wearer to fit into, or onto, structures designed to deny them.
Link (via CRAFT)


  1. So the city designs a bench to prevent people from sleeping on it, thus keeping it available for its intended use… people sitting on it. So someone comes up with a way to get around that and sleep on it, thus preventing other people from sitting on it.

    How is this a good thing?

  2. What’s wrong with sleeping on a public bench? Christopher Alexander argues in The Timeless Way of Building that sleeping areas are an important part of well-designed public spaces.

  3. And hey, when you’re bored, you can all get together and play Tetris.

    Exactly what is this supposed to accomplish? The homeless folks who need this sort of shit can’t afford it.

  4. I think it’s funny. Can a cop bust someone for sleeping on a bench that was designed for no sleeping? Is the bench now false advertising? Was the city duped? Who paid for these benches and who approved their purchase?

    This outfit could single handedly cause chaos!

    “The accused was cited for sleeping on a no-sleep bench by wearing a blue, foamy, coverall, sort of thing…”

    “Case dismissed.”

    It’s like the user got past the bench’s EULA!

    I’m lacking sleep. Somebody please stop me…

  5. Antinous, that book blew my mind. I immediately thought of that when I saw this, too.

    The idea is that people sleeping in public is an essential feature of a well-designed public space. It’s a visceral testament to the fact that the community is safe. That goes for homeless people and people just having a nap in the afternoon. It’s an ideal, yes, but a beautiful one.

    Along with “old people everywhere.”

  6. Ths s nthr rt, nr lgcl, why smn wld wst tm mkng/prsntng ths s bynd m, bt hy sm ppl lk t cll pnt splttr rt s wll.

    The real issue.
    -Lock the crazies up in institutions.
    -Say you’re going to treat the crazies through the community.
    -Like DARE, Social Security, and practically every other government program it ends up underfunded and/or poorly designed and managed.
    -Refer to crazies as the “Homeless”
    -Shuttle them around to cities who will take them or don’t care, making their lives as difficult as possible with benches like that.
    -Wait for them to die.
    -Laugh at the jackass who makes a suit to beat the bench.

  7. I am “into art” and stuff and am obsessed with Joseph Cornell I paint and make weird art things, and so do most of my friends. But once I went to this event (that grow-your-own-stem-cells thing) and somebody described someone as a “performance artist” and I snickered, because in my social group that’s the appropriate response when someone mentions being a “performance artist” – even if you do something that’s essentially performance art, you don’t call it that, or you’re a pretentious goof. Yeah anyway it was full of art people and the atmosphere got very cold after I snickered.

    I still feel embarrassed about it.

  8. And so, the public space arms race begins…. They’ll put iron spikes on the benches next, just you wait.

  9. Do you think perhaps this art – whoops, sorry, you already told us it’s not art — “time-wasting” project was designed to encourage discussion about homeless people, urban design, public spaces, etc. , Whiskystar?

  10. Why should the city get to decide the sole intended use of artefacts in public spaces? And why should no benches in a public space be sleepable-onable? My entirely respectable late father–M.D., F.R.C.S, and quite a few other letters besides–was known to fall asleep on a bench on occasion.

    The park my house faces has loads of benches, and sometimes people sleep on them, sometimes people sit on them, and sometimes people have sex on them (I’m not totally sure about that last, but I have observed one couple having a discrete and fully-clothed boink in the lea of large plinthe raised to commemorate a long-dead minister, out of sight of, well, everybody but me. So it’s entirely plausible that the benches get used for it now and then.)

    Providing the public with a diversity of options as to how they use their public spaces seems to me sound social policy, and if there is a problem related to people sleeping on benches it seems to me that the problem is not fixed by eliminating the ability of benches to be slept upon. If the problem, for example, is that people sleeping on benches tend to be injection drug users and their discarded needles are a health hazard, a solution might be to ensure that safe injection sites exist. Unless, of course, you’re willing to ignore the vast amount of data suggesting drug addition is a medical problem, not a moral problem.

    I admit to personal bias here: I once spent an uncomfortable night in Vancouver Airport sleeping on the floor due to the specially-designed “useless for sleeping” vinyl-sling-seated “benches” provided for travellers. The people who designed them clearly hated humanity, and probably their mothers besides.

    And yeah, Christopher Alexander rocks. Buildings and public spaces for people to live in! What a radical idea.

  11. Tom, right on. (We like to play “homeless dude or math professor” at UCLA.)

    It’s hard to solve deep social problems – it’s easy to reach for a “solution” that puts it out of sight or makes the statistics look better, but doesn’t really address the underlying problem. Lipstick on a pig, as Takuan would say.

    Like Seattle putting up a big fence on its bridge to combat its suicide problem.

  12. My goodness, I don’t quite get why everyone feels so cranky over this, how is it hurting anybody? Seems kind of goofy and silly to me, and goofy and silly is -always- good. It’s not like the creator expects us all to rush out and -buy- them (personally I’d be happier with a nice pillow/hat for leaning against walls during the casual lunch-hour snooze) …

  13. I have observed one couple having a discrete and fully-clothed boink in the lea of large plinthe raised to commemorate a long-dead minister, out of sight of, well, everybody but me.

    Heh heh heh – I read that as the couple boinking to commemorate the minister! Today I am 12.

    The airport thing really ticks me now, since they were first installed at a time when “yikes the homeless could sleep on ur benchez!” but now only the lucky few actually make it past security. There should be couches for everybody.

  14. “somebody described someone as a “performance artist” and I snickered, because in my social group that’s the appropriate response when someone mentions being a ‘performance artist'”

    It sounds like your social group is composed of mean people.

  15. #20 Mark, it’s just that we’d only say it as a joke. Like a lawyer might only call herself an “attorney-at-law” or use the title “esquire” as a self-mocking joke.

  16. #20 like if you asked somebody what school he went to, he might say “I’m a Harvard man” with a big cheesy smile, kind of self-mocking, and the socially polite thing to do is to laugh. I just thought you only used the words “performance artist” that way. It’s not at all that I don’t think performance art is awesome!

  17. Sister Y, I would have to agree on the colloquial funniness of the title “performance artist”. My friends aren’t mean either.

  18. Takuan and Arkizzle – thanks, I was worried I offended Mark (and maybe others). I’m not expressing myself well today. But I love Mierle Ukeles and Chris Burden (and some of their modern descendants) so much!

  19. think of it as evolution in action

    I believe the whole J Lo “bubble butt” is a progression towards this. Eventually people will be able to just sit on the arm wrests without discomfort. In the mean time there are always those padded Butt Enhancers.

  20. ah good,now we are gathered; Sister dearest, it is only fair to give you one last chance. Or shall I say, give your puppy one last chance?

  21. Wait until you hear someone describe herself as an ‘Ascended Master Archangel Communicator’. Then try not to laugh.

  22. New clues for old ones, galactic pot healer style:

    archaic computer – mysterious conundrum (this one’s easy guys)
    animal – sharp prehensile extremities (this one’s tough)

  23. There’s a video at the link, but it’s filmed from a great distance, so the model is about ten pixels tall.

  24. I fell asleep under a tree in the park while reading, so a man had to wake me and ask me if I was all right. Clearly, being tired and falling asleep over a book is strictly a private activity.

  25. Tak-kun,

    When you posted the URL for the Venus Fly-trap, the URL was sesquipedalian. Now it is short and tidy. How did this transformation transpire after the fact?

  26. yes, She Who Must Be Evaded has struck again. She must have been snickering over my shoulder as I wrestled with that massive program you fobbed off on me.

  27. Sorry, Sister. I misunderstood. I thought your pals were sneering derisively at a person who said s/he was a performance artist. I apologize.

  28. I say we all sneer derisively at each other. But we have to be completely nude except for bowler hats

  29. I was startled by the negative comments that evaluate these as products, at how quickly the consumer matrix is activated. I then read the bb post again, and realized that Mark’s choice of wording may have triggered this when he referred to it as a “line”. As if these might be for sale at Old Navy next season. It is in fact a series of art pieces.

    The artwork is of course intended to be ludicrous. It points to the environments that are designed to be intentionally uncomfortable and inhospitable, and to the lengths that we might go to to make them comfortable again. But it sort of takes the fun out of it to explain it, no?

  30. Well. Amongst my friends and colleagues I’m known for having what is either a super hero special ability or X-men style mutation. I can sleep anywhere. (Photographic evidence Here) I don’t think I’d have any need of the outfit/artwork to kip on that bench.

  31. I have the opposite superhero ability. I can detect a pea under a stack of a hundred mattresses.

  32. “if they want to help us, they should put in a bench” – friendly (seriously) drug dealer in response to people from the local development corporation and rick santorum’s office having a press conference outside of an abandoned building on my street where friendly (and not so friendly) drug dealers hang out, talking about how they were going to “help” the neighborhood.

    moral: put in benches (and parks, for that matter)

  33. I’m sorry to hear that Antinous. I find it easy to slide off to sleep most places as a rule.

    From what you’ve said in previous posts I think you maybe a Princess. Well they do grow up to be Queens don’t they? ;)

  34. oh wait, is this a baseball thing? Cuz I don’t do sports where it’s not legal to kill in a match

  35. Why not Takuan. You seem to have eliminated the most enigmatic aspects from this questionable piece of art.

  36. we’ll wait for the Wicked Sister then. (I like saying that: Wicked Sister, Wicked Sister…I guess it’s because I finally found a good pair to keep in the car. Eh, Locke?)

  37. Locke? Google is getting a hammering from me today. I’m wondering if this game conversation might be better held on twitter or Jaiku.

  38. nae, I be a Pure Water Boinger, I’ll not be havin’ with such Heathen Practices! Least ways not till they be a throwin me oot tha door agin, arrr, beggin yer worships pardon o’ course. Arrrr.

  39. #61 I would say that this bench, with all its anti-ergonomics, is like an encryption device – say, the Enigma machine – and the pillow suit is like the Bombe. As for your superhero sleeping ability, I have to say, you win! You’re like a natural Bombe my brother.

  40. Methinks there is too much talk of the game, and not enough playing of it.

    Also, the rules aren’t being properly observed and it’s becoming a different game.

    A new clubhouse, with the old rules to follow.

  41. What a flurry of activity all of a sudden!

    Sister Y’s first, goes to Cha0tic!

    Well played sir.

  42. Well gang, I was gonna start up a quickfire round of the old rules, to keep us on our toes, while we tried to work out Sister Y’s second conundrum.

    However, WickedSister stormed the barrack and stole the prize before I could inveite you..

    New clubhouse here.

    Game submissions accepted.

  43. I didn’t read past comment #20 or so, but definitely surprised to see all the rancor. Come on people, this is a *joke*. And a really good one in my opinion. And it makes all kinds of funny comments (to me at least) about humanity overcoming authority. I can’t help but be reminded of the classic cartoon where a guy is sitting on a city bench watching a flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk.

    And seriously, to the people yelling about how “this isn’t art”, lighten up.

  44. I didn’t read past comment #20 or so, but definitely surprised to see all the rancor. Come on people, this is a *joke*. And a really good one in my opinion. And it makes all kinds of funny comments (to me at least) about humanity overcoming institutions. I can’t help but be reminded of the classic cartoon where a guy is sitting on a city bench watching a flower grow through a crack in the sidewalk.

    And seriously, to the people yelling about how “this isn’t art”, lighten up.

  45. He was on the track of it, true. Anyway the category was a poor fit for the subject, I suppose.

  46. I remember, back in the 90s, as a teenager, being able to spend a lazy summer day in the park, lying belly-up on a bench and reading a book.

    A nice conventional bench is great — I can take a nap, or eat some food on it with a friend, whatever.

    So I appreciate people’s disgust at seeing these benches that force people to sit, and only sit on them.

    But if you have lived in a large city with a chronic homeless problem, you may have a different opinion.

    See, I am sure that if they had nice benches in some of these parks, EVER SINGLE BENCH would be staked out and become the permanent living space of some transient.
    And while we, as a society should certainly try to address the underlying problems that create this situation, that shouldn’t also prevent us from treating the immediate symptoms too.

    Unfortunately, the times we live in demand these measures.

  47. @75, People don’t sleep on benches because it’s fun to sleep on hard metal/wood on a noisy public street in front of a lot of people. They sleep there because that’s the best available option.

    That’s the problem: Homeless people are in such a shitty situation that a place obviously very poorly suited for sleeping has become their best option for getting some sleep. Maybe if cities made an effort to create areas designed for sleeping, that wouldn’t be the case. Micro-shelters, shelter-friendly architecture or outdoor “tent city” areas are good examples of this. These solutions may be somewhat more expensive, but they have the advantage of solving the problems of both groups, those who want to sit on benches as well as those who need somewhere to sleep.

    When there are enough people in a city who are so poor and desperate that they end up sleeping on all the benches, keeping benches available for sitting seems like an absurd priority to have.

  48. See, I am sure that if they had nice benches in some of these parks, EVER SINGLE BENCH would be staked out and become the permanent living space of some transient.

    Aha, but if it’s a permanent living space, then that person is no longer a transient!

  49. Gameplayers, shall I ask the Boingers if they’d be willing to have an occasional open thread where you can play? Or would you rather hang out in the hospitable tail-ends of comment threads?

  50. I think it’s more fun sneaking around the edges, fitting it in here and there and dodging kicks from the town folk.

  51. I like the sneaking too, though an open thread could be more inclusive. Thanks for offering Teresa.

  52. Antinous @32: Have you really met an Ascended Master Archangel Communicator? Woof! Best I’ve done in that ine is be friends with someone whose sister claims to channel major members of the angelic hierarchy, see enclosed rate sheet. I balked when I realized she’d listed Lucifer as one of the available participants: why, for all the world, would anyone want to have a conversation with him?

  53. Have you really met an Ascended Master Archangel Communicator?

    Lots of them. I even have a friend with the designation. But this one wispy little woman wanders around cocktail parties grabbing elbows and lisping in her baby-woman voice, “I talk to angels.” The Archangel Communicator part seems fine to me. It’s the Ascended Master that seems like an invitation to derisive laughter. “Dog! Unhand our royal charger, dog! We are the Empress Jadis!”

  54. Teresa..

    original idea

    rules, we went for rule2, and that’s whats used for the regular quick rounds, and:

    rule3 added by SisterY, is the more cryptic, sneaky version.

    So, you pose a topic:

    SciFi Films 1900-2008

    and a game:

    Ultimate Celebrity Pugilist

    and I answer:

    The Last Star Fighter


    Do the same, but work your topic (first) and game (second) into the topic of conversation – in italics. Also, to be answered in hidden italic messages..

  55. Antinous; there is a shocking lack of Pauline Baynes. I may be forced to learn how to use the scanner.

  56. There’s this thing about Ascended Masters—they’re all, without exception, ascended. That means they’ve gone to Heaven or Nirvana. That means they’re not among us.

    I mean, duhh.

    Even claiming to be a bodhisattva makes more sense.

  57. Even claiming to be a bodhisattva makes more sense.

    Oooooh. Busted. I believe that bodhisattvas are really common, but most haven’t realized their potential. I think that the innate desire to remain and help until everyone has reached their bliss is what defines a bodhisattva. So the old lady in your neighborhood who won’t go to bed until she’s fed every last stray cat? She’s on her path.

  58. Antinous, in all seriousness I would take the bodhisattva vow if I thought there was the remotest possibility of my being within miles of that level of enlightenment!

  59. I tend to think that it’s a pre-lifestream decision. If it’s on your mind, you’ve probably already done it and are just beginning to manifest it. Remember, even Steven Seagal is regarded as a tulku.

  60. The Dalai Lama vouches for him. It demonstrates the principle of underlying intent without full development.

  61. I think Steven Seagal is overdeveloped, myself. Also dumb. And icky.

    I suppose that doesn’t mean he can’t be a bodhisattva. Fierce type.

    And His Holiness would know better than me. Shaanti, Steven.

  62. I’m all for the idea of reclaiming public space and thwarting designs that intentionally hamper the user’s ability to make their own decisions, but these suits are ridiculous and yet another example of that “OH AIN’T I CLEVER” style of contemporary art that laughs at its own joke instead of actually trying to solve the problem it’s allegedly addressing.

    By creating clothing that allows people to use these public areas as they see fit they’ve created clothing that can’t be worn. (I mean, it CAN, but not really.)

    This stuff isn’t art, it’s anti-design.
    It’s solving one problem by creating three more.

    If they had made special cushions designed specifically for public-space furniture, installed them, and then documented the results this would have been a neat design project. Too bad the artist was too busy patting herself on the back for her hilarious idea to do something that was actually useful.

  63. At this point in the thread, is it even possible to be both on topic, and have original content?

  64. oh yes, and even humourously pornographic and political too, as well as including an self referential inside joke. I have complete faith in you. And if you fail, will visit you tonight via the bathroom drain. No pressure.

  65. @NOEN

    Can you point out the post where someone said the exact same thing I did? To be sure, I see some similar comments from people who share my opinion of projects like this, but I fail to see one that is so similar to my comment as to make it wholly redundant.

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