Expanding our STOOP series, by Julien De Smedt

The Belgian designer and architect Julien De Smedt designed STOOP as a social and informal meeting place based on the universal idea of using steps as places to sit. Now, we welcome the STOOP mini bench and STOOP picnic table to the series—additions that open up the possibility of even more interactions and applications.

Both new members of the STOOP family further develop the idea of how stairs offer natural seating and gathering places in urban environments. STOOP mini is a smaller version of the original STOOP bench. It quickly becomes a social and playful meeting place, and the shape makes it easy to link several benches together and form an urban auditorium where each bench has room for up to five people. Since the idea of the design is to enable spontaneous interactions in public spaces, the furniture needs to be sufficiently versatile to adapt to different environments and their differing conditions. That is why we have expanded the STOOP concept—to meet these a wide range of different needs.

“STOOP mini came about after a long period of demand from schools, especially in the US, which really wanted a STOOP, but were prevented by regulations concerning height restrictions. It made us consider the size and the possibility that a smaller, more intimate STOOP could represent a seating solution that would fit many spaces where the larger STOOP bench might be too large. And since they belong to the same family, they can of course be combined,” says designer Julien De Smedt.

The second addition, the STOOP picnic table, is a more comprehensive development of the STOOP concept, where the distinctive design language has been applied to the traditional picnic table with two fixed benches and a table in the middle. STOOP picnic table invites young and old alike to sit down for a moment of conversation, work, or a cup of coffee. The table is also wheelchair accessible as standard, and a wheelchair can be placed at either end. It’s also possible to create additional seating by placing chairs at the ends.

“We had already thought about using STOOP as an impromptu lunch table but wanted to open up to a wider audience. This welcoming design embodies the whole concept of gathering around a table,” says Julien De Smedt.

The STOOP series is excellent for use in all types of environments that want to offer informal meeting places, from parks, playgrounds and squares to offices and hotel lobbies.

“One thing we have observed with STOOP is that it is a catalyst for the places in which it is installed. We have placed it in desolate squares and seen them brought to life almost immediately. Due to its unique nature, the biggest challenge with STOOP has been to get people to understand the fundamental idea. It is a bench, yet it looks like a staircase that is not in scale. Today, we see that this mental divide has been bridged and that STOOP is popping up everywhere. We believe that the new additions will further strengthen that direction,” says Julien De Smedt.

Just like the existing STOOP, the new pieces are made up of a robust construction of hot-dip galvanized steel and comfortable wooden surfaces to sit on. And as with all our other furniture, the series is available in 200 RAL colours for powder coating and comes with a lifetime guarantee against rust.