Bench 5: Akari Luig & Ralf Bähren

This bench will form part of 50+20’s Emerging Benchmarks mobile exhibit and prototyping platform, where management education FOR the world can be prototyped, demonstrated and shared during RIO+20.
  • Name: Akari Luig & Ralf Bähren
  • Country / City: Japan & Germany, Tokyo & Berlin


Akari Luig and Ralf Bähren (both 34), two designers from Berlin spent their whole year 2008 in Japan, discovering and enjoying its cultural treats, tricks and habits. As a result, they collected and documented their “outsider insights” in the book “TokyoClash”, a splendid journey through Japanese everyday culture. Ralf would actually make a perfect alien amongst the japanese: tall, blond and of bavarian origin, while Akari represents the real Japanese half: her mother is a japanese artist and painter from Kyushu, the southern part of Japan’s main islands.

Design & Concept of materials: 

  • Construction: three matress-like seatpads sealed in plastic, that can be folded upwards and connected to form a benchlike backrest. it can also be used as futon, sleep cover or privacy wall.
  • Material: inner filling from layered cardboard and air filled plastic foil heat-sealed in strong plastic sheets with additional metal punchrings and beautiful silk cloth for holding it all together.


Their bench integrates three main essentials of japanese culture: Sitting on the (cushioned) ground, blue plastic foil for spontaneous picnics (that cover whole parks in spring during “hanami”) and of course: the overabundance of plastic and cardboard waste from the neverending swell of electronic goods made in Japan.  Last but not least it can be understood as a respectful nod to the japanese homeless, who quite neatly construct their intermediate homes of just these bare leftovers – just as tidy as if it was just another house.

Image Gallery & Concept