Our office is located on the ground floor of a glass-clad building called happa on Komazawa-dori in Tokyo. There is a short guardrail and a white signpost in front of the large glass facade along the street. We used to have a makeshift bench outside and take a break there, but unfortunately it was mistakenly carried away along with garbage after a garage sale. I decided to make a new one and came up with an idea of using the existing guardrail to support a bench seat instead of making legs for it. I designed a bench seat that can be hooked onto the guardrail, which can be easily detached, carried and attached to the same type of guardrail at another location. In addition, because I liked its ambiguous appearance which makes one wonder whether it is public or private property, we painted the hooks in the same green as the guardrail. The bench was complimented with a coffee cup holder attached to the white signpost using magnets (not shown in the photos).
The bench became a popular hangout spot among neighbors as well as our office members: our office members would sit there and enjoy cigarettes or coffee; visitors to our office would wait there before a meeting; elderly women would take a rest there after climbing a slope; elementary school kids would sit there and play games; and local residents would read there.
One day, we received an official notice from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government demanding that we remove the bench immediately. We reluctantly removed it and are now using a different bench, but I feel that something is wrong. On the one hand, I understand that graffiti may be considered illegal due to its vandalizing impact. On the other hand, although the act of hooking a bench onto a guardrail does not damage anything, it is termed illegal because it is regarded as "abandonment of an object on a public road". I thought about benches someone had put out anonymously at bus stops and wondered why they were considered OK and ours was not OK, but there was nothing we could do. Instead, I conceived a brilliant new idea.
The act of writing graffiti is called "bombing". Maybe that's what we should do––why don't we "bomb" public spaces with benches? Even though our original bench was well-received among community residents, it was officially "outlawed". Then, we should follow the "outlaw" logic –– and what is more, I am truly devoted to street art more than anything.
We did research on guardrails and found that guardrail design varies according to regulations of the municipality in charge of road management. In the end, we decided to design benches that can be hooked onto all types of guardrails used in all of the twenty-three wards of Tokyo and install them all over the city without permission. We call it "Bench Bomb".