Choosing public furniture already takes a lot of consideration due to the high-use and high-impact they experience. Choosing the right outdoor furniture requires additional considerations due to added elements of stress, and the environment it is placed in. Below we outline what to consider when choosing furniture for your outdoor public space.
The people who will be using the space affects what type of furniture should be chosen. Different groups of people have different requirements that need to be addressed to provide the most user-friendly experience. A park frequented by the elderly, for example, may need chairs with backs that have more support and arm rests. If a seating area sees a high volume of smokers leaving cigarette butts, considering installing cigarette bins. If it’s a park near a school, or where children often play, choose furniture that can be painted in bright fun colors.
The Needs of the Space
Once the user has been determined, you should also consider how that user will most likely interact with that space, as well as how we would like them to interact with that space. If the furniture is in a high-volume area, such as a public transit waiting area, more consideration should be taken for furniture that is durable and floor mounted. If the space will be used for a short duration, or if you wish the space to only be used for a short amount of time, consider benches rather than seats with a back. If you are installing seats with backs, you should also ask whether the seats should have arms or not. Arms often deter people from sleeping on benches and can often create a bit more comfort for the users since there is a built-in separation created between each user for more personal space. Other considerations include whether you want to create a group setting, in which case seats with backs arranged to encourage conversation tend to be more inviting, rather than benches lined up in a row.
Outdoor spaces also need more than just seating. Your space needs to be multi-functional, as the people using the space will be on different stages of their journey. You should think about ways to keep your space welcoming and clean. With products like waste and recycling bins and ashtrays you can maintain the multi-functional space people need. People may be trying to grab a bite to eat while waiting for their ride or maybe they stepped outside for a smoke break and will need a place to dispose of their waste. These units need to be just as durable and easy to maintain as the seating you have provided. These bins could also be a great advertising opportunity or a way to customize the public space through using color, customized decals, or advertising panels.
You want furniture that is going to look as good as the day you bought it, and for the maintenance of the space to be as effortless as possible. You may want to consider public furniture that is easy to clean, and has sweep through backs, or perforations on the seats that allow any debris or spills to fall through to the ground. Waste and recycling bins in stainless steel, or cold-rolled powder coated steel are also easily wiped clean. Waste bins should also have slanted tops or apertures so that the waste actually goes into the bin rather than being left on top.
Material and Durability
Hardwood, aluminum and steel are popular materials for outdoor public furniture and for good reason. Hardwood offers a natural look and strength, and while it is inevitable that it will fade over time, it will often result in a nice patina look. Try to pick woods that will withstand use and the elements, such as teak or ipe. There is a reason these two types of wood are so often used in decking. Aluminum is a nice light weight metal that is also rust proof. Steel can painted, galvanized, or anodized to protect from rust, corrosion, and vandalism. Powder Coating your steel is a great way to improve durability. It is stronger than traditional painting methods making it more scratch resistant. It also offers you the chance to create a more customized look to your space. You can carry out the same color themes used inside or start a whole new color story for your outdoor space.