Decoding Design

Mixing new and old fashioned social interaction in Meeting Bowls

Posting in Cities

In Times Square, a public art installation encourages New York visitors and citizens to face each other and relax.

For the rest of this summer, visitors in New York's Times Square can sit, rest and talk in three oversized structures which resemble salad spinners. Designed by the Spanish design collaborative mmmm..., the Meeting Bowls are meant to offer a small haven in the middle of Times Square's electric buzz. The designers wanted to provide intimate spaces for friends and strangers to meet, relax, and if they wish, rock. Each Meeting Bowl sits on a base that rocks--gently--and fits up to eight people.

The mmmm ... collaborators, based in Madrid, designed the five foot tall structures and sent digital drawings to a fabricator in New Jersey. The fiber board pieces were CNC cut and shipped to New York where they were constructed on site in two days.

In the same vein as the public ping-pong tables in New York's parks and the city's fancy new scaffolding, the 'social benches' inject a sense of fun and community as well as beauty into daily urban life.

The urban furniture experiment is a partnership between the Times Square Alliance and mmmm… Users of the Bowls can record conversations and upload to a project website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube page. Two short but amusing movies of some rocking conversation are below:

The Meeting Bowls are open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight daily through September 16th.

Images: mmmm...

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure