Saturday, February 7, 2009

Seats of Compassion

Compassion is embodied in seating. The countless places you have rested your bones through your life were waiting for your arrival. Someone before you took the time, effort and money to design, craft and put them there. Without the seats in parks, cafes, theaters, libraries, waiting rooms, offices, airports, train stations, churches, temples, bus stops, gardens, porches, living rooms, dining rooms........we'd all be standing around, feet aching wondering when we could get out of there.

A bench or chair in a public place says, "Humanity, take a load off your feet. Stop a while. Eat your sandwich. Read a newspaper. Have a conversation with a friend. Or, just look around and appreciate the drama and comedy of dwelling in this world.

The making of a chair can change the world. The architect William McDonough was asked by a Swiss company to design a chair. McDonough said he would take the job if he could also design the way the chair was made. In the manufacturing process, the fabric that covered the chair had to be washed a number of times. The fabric acted as a filter, sifting out impurities. The water that came out of the factory was cleaner that the water going in.

Notice all the seats that are offered to you each day. Imagine how they got there. Who designed the chair or bench? What was their intention for the design? What was their day like when they designed this place to sit? Where did the materials come from? How does this intersection of nature and imagination change your world? 

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