The Archetto seating unit is intended to bring people together. Created through a collaboration between Italian design and architecture firm Mazorati Ronchetti and UK design and architecture firm Sybarite, it was originally designed for a specific event and a specific space, The Buyer’s Club at the 70th edition of the Pitti Uomo, a major men’s fashion event held in Florence in 2011. The goal was to provide seating and a sense of style to a room where members of the National Chamber of Buyers could carry out their business during the show.
More recently, Archetto has been seen in a slightly different configuration in the London sweet shop, Snog.
It is made of glass fiber composite, and was designed using digital fabrication methods. It is made in 5 modules that can be assembled onsite.
The unit includes sockets in its base for charging electronic devices, so it will predictably become crowded with people working intently on their computers, smart phones and tablets. It will probably even gather a number of people standing around impatiently waiting for a (powered) seat to become available, and those who have seats will probably try to avoid eye-contact with those who stand and wait. Nonetheless, the designer’s press release boldly insists that Archetto is intended to encourage social intercourse: “The central structure manages not only to maximise the space available, but also acts dynamically by stimulating people to get close to each other and thus encourage interaction and conversation.”
The high back provides a slightly increased level of privacy without closing off the space.
The designers suggest that it can be outfitted with loudspeakers and a wireless connection, and be suitable for clubs, bars, restaurants, and public spaces in hotels. Again, it seems like the speakers and the wi-fi hotspot would tend to discourage interaction or conversation (at least, with those in physical proximity), not encourage it.
Nonetheless, the shape of the unit certainly seems to encourage people to gather close together.
These apparently clashing intentions are probably not confused or even contradictory, but actually very realistic in terms of modern culture. They underscore the degree to which our public spaces have become environments in which people gather close together to be alone.
Images sourced as noted.