Laurel, who will graduate from the University of Brighton later this month with a degree in 3D Design and Craft, was inspired to create the chair by her “own experiences of men infringing on my space in public, and also from ‘The Everyday Sexism Project,’ a website founded by Laura Bates in which women self-testify about sexism they experience.”
The chair is made of wood and features two wooden barriers on each side of the seat that meet at an almost-V in the middle. Anyone who sits in the chair will need to accommodate their legs to the barriers. For most, this means their knees will touch.
Laurel, who is 23, was given the Belmond Award for emerging talent. The award seeks to highlight designs that show “imaginative and cleverly presented ideas with a considered overall look and feel along with the quality of work displayed.”
The judge praised Laurel’s chair as a “bold, purpose-driven design that explores the important role of design in informing space, a person’s behaviour and society issues of today.”
The new "anti-manspreading" chair that a feminist student designed. pic.twitter.com/PDn1t53CtU— Paul Bois (@PaulBois39) July 17, 2019
Manspreading, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “the practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats,” is commonly seen as a scourge for city-dwellers who would love nothing more than a comfortable ride on the subway or bus but instead end up glaring at the inconsiderate and oblivious dude taking up all the available space.
Laurel also made a second chair, which encourages women to spread their legs out more.
“With my chair set, I hoped to draw awareness to the act of sitting for men and women and inspire discussion around this,” she said. And discussion is what she got—along with plenty of hate and vehement comments on social media calling her “disgusting,” “disgracing,” and a “feminazi,” it the Instagram post below is any indication.
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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