Alternative Group Furniture

After last week’s assignment it occurred to me that of course this matter of alternative seating for groups in libraries has already been addressed, and addressed cleverly, by Toyo Ito and Associates in the Tama Art Library and Sendai Mediatheque. I had the opportunity last spring to visit both of these locations and loved the cheeky and simple furniture. Here’s some selections (populated by the Tokyo GSD Studio of Spring 2012):

Tama Art Library: Felt Surface

This felt surface (industrial wool felt laminated to a steel subsurface and structure) is in a quiet corner of the ground floor, surrounded by windows, and the space had the most restful feeling. You can’t help but flop onto it.

Tama Art Library: Blob Chaise

This little pouf (upholstered with melamine surface) has an integrated coffee table surface. Probably more useful for sitting than napping, but hey.

Tama Art Library: Computer Desks and Media Chairs

The level computer desks (plywood and glass on galvanized posts) make clever advantage of the sloping floor plane to provide a range of seating heights along its length. The media chairs in the background (wool felt with zipper on steel rod frame) allow people to control their sense of privacy while watching movies by zipping or unzipping the chairs’ hoods.

Tama Art Library: Caviar Stools (Photo by Amy Garlock)

These stools (upholstered) are clustered in the entry lobby, freely moveable.

Sendai Mediatheque: Ring Table

The removal of the center of this table makes it more accommodating to a group of strangers because it feels less like one big table (even though it is) and more like a long counter.

Sendai Mediatheque: Ribbon Bench

This convoluted bench provides a whole range of seating options in one go. The only downside was that the spandex upholstery wasn’t looking too clean from all the use it gets.

The great thing about all these designs is how deceptively simple they are.



    • Hattie Stroud

      “Ito worked on this project with other architects – Ross Lovegrove, Karim Rashid, Kazuyo Sejima and K.T. Architecture – each of whom designed a floor in order to provide it with a distinct signature.”


      I believe the ribbon bench and the ring table are the product of KT Architecture, but I’ve never been able to find a website for them in order to confirm. Let me know if you find more info! I’d be curious.

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