A University of Brighton student was given the New Designers Belmond Award this year for her unusual chair design that sought to stop men from manspreading.
Laila Laurel's design titled "A Solution for Manspreading" is made to keep a man's legs closed as the chair’s shape keeps him from spreading his legs while sitting. Judges described Laurel’s work as "a bold, purpose-driven design that explores the important role of design in informing space, a person’s behavior, and society issues of today," according to UNILAD, a British internet media company and website that provides "social news" and entertainment.
Laurel was "completely shocked but very happy and honored" when she received the Belmond Award for her design and that she is "looking forward to designing with them this year."
|Anti manspreading chair / Photo by: Laila Laurel via Instagram and Unilad|
Along with the prestigious award, the student was also given the opportunity to design a product for a hotel and leisure company. Aside from the anti-manspreading chair, Laurel also designed a chair for women that has a wooden divider in the middle to encourage them to place their legs far apart.
The 23-year-old's own experiences of men infringing on her space in public inspired her to make the design, Laurel said, as well as other women's testimonies from The Everyday Sexism Project, a website dedicated to women who wish to share their stories of sexism.
|The Demonstration / Photo by: Laila Laurel via Instagram and Unilad|
"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.
UNILAD defines “manspreading” as the annoying practice of men who ignore other people's personal space by spreading their legs too wide while sitting in a bench or inside a vehicle. It adds that this is a usual complaint among people who uses public transportation and feel that manspreaders take too much of the already limited space in their commute.
Laurel's design sparked an online debate, with some saying it is "clever, tongue-in-cheek, and really thought-provoking" while others noted that it doesn't account for specific parts of a male's body.