The book consists of a series of essays that begin with the author’s personal discovery of public seating. An ‘ah hah’ moment as a young architect visiting Paris and his early experience as a designer is followed by a brief history of the evolution of public space and seating in the West. This is followed by an account of some of his experiments as a landscape architect, and the theory, craft, and role of seating in a number of prominent civic places his firm and others have designed in the past four decades. Along the way there are reflections on the author’s interest in chairs, seating, public space, and aspects of the profession of landscape architecture.
Accompanying the essays there are sketches, and watercolors made by Olin over time while travelling or working that weren’t originally intended as book illustrations. Some are quick, hasty notes of something observed; others are more careful studies with, on occasion, measurements. Some were made leisurely while enjoying a felicitous moment or place, while others record the author puzzling through a particular design problem. Each in some way exemplifies aspects of the essays helping to articulate or sharpen the author’s insights and point of view – those of a designer, not a historian or critic. They offer an alternative presentation of the topics raised, and a dialogue between writing and image – whether one of contrast, or at times, contrast.
By Laurie Olin
Applied Research & Design, 2017
Hardcover, 200 pages
6.97 x 8.98 inches