McMichael Outdoor Bench Project

McMichael Outdoor Bench Project - A 30th Anniversary Project of the McMichael Volunteer Committee
McMichael Outdoor Bench Project – A 30th Anniversary Project of the McMichael Volunteer Committee

Adopt a Bench

A unique Outdoor Bench for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is here!

In just under two years, with inspiration and support from Victoria Dickenson, Executive Director & CEO, and project oversight by Cindy Ball, Director, Development & Donor Relations, the McMichael Outdoor Bench Project has produced a winning design!  As the McMichael Volunteer Committee’s 30th anniversary project, it has provided project leadership and funding support in celebration of volunteerism at the McMichael. Since its inception in 1985, the McMichael Volunteer Committee has contributed more than $500,000 to support a number of programs and projects at the McMichael.

In the fall of 2014, a call for design submissions was sent out widely across Ontario. The challenge was to “design a unique McMichael outdoor bench to be available for commemorative naming for donors wishing to honour or pay tribute to a family member or friend that had an affiliation with or love for the organization. The functional outdoor bench would be installed in specific locations through the McMichael grounds and designed to withstand the rigors of an unsupervised public environment.”

The successful design, selected from a number of excellent submissions, was created by the team of Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed. We are looking forward to seeing this bench enhance the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection for many years to come

Honourable Mention goes to:

  • Nihan Basak, Christian Simionescu  Ribbon Bench
  • Dimitri Papatheodorou, Michelle Grant – Tree Bench
  • Commute Home: Sara Parisotto, Hamid Samad – Laser Engraved Stainless Steel Bench

About the Designers

Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed is an emerging collaborative design team formed by three former Furniture Craft & Design students from Sheridan College: C.R. Fieldhouse, Simon Ford and Lauren Reed. The three have come together to imagine new and innovative designs that reflect their belief in the simplicity of functional objects that marry concept, experimentation and materiality.

Rooted in craft-based methods, Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed follow an iterative process of making and remaking that results in thoughtfully considered and well-made objects. While their collective experience lays in fine woodworking, their patient approach to design allows them to experiment with diverse materials and techniques.

Fieldhouse works to bridge new materials and digital processes with traditional hand techniques. Ford uses timeless woodworking methods in a contemporary way that seeks to achieve an honest use of material. Meanwhile, Reed questions the emphasis of function and form in her conceptual approach to problem solving. Their individual approaches to design combine to create a new and unique perspective in Toronto’s design scene.

About the Bench

The McMichael Bench offers a minimal, durable, and affordable solution for outdoor seating. Its expressive use of line mirrors that of the art and architecture of the gallery. While its form echoes the contours of the Canadian landscape showcased in the Gallery’s permanent collection, the subtle and simplified lines are accessible and universal, allowing visitors to project their own landscapes onto the form. The lines simultaneously evoke the flow of the surrounding hills, the water of the Humber River and the lines of the artists’ pen, but are subtle enough not to distract the visitor from the surrounding sculptures and natural environment.

Fabricated out of galvanized steel, the bench frame is weather resistant, low maintenance and strong. The seat and back and slats are made of locally–sourced and sustainably harvested ebonized white oak. White oak is a premium domestic hardwood species that is native to southeastern Canada, is highly weather resistant. The ebonizing process uses vinegar and iron to naturally oxidize the tannins in the wood itself. This gives it an integral and uniform colour, helping to prevent vandalism and preempt any staining caused by exposure to the elements. The use of steam-bending to create curves in the slats allows each bench to be a unique expression of form. By including a back and arm rests the bench helps to accommodate people with mobility issues.

McMichael Outdoor Bench Jurors

  • Cindy Ball, Director, Development & Donor Relations
  • Victoria Dickenson, Executive Director & CEO
  • James Felice, Facilities Manager

External Jurors

  • Heidi Earnshaw, Heidi Earnshaw Design
  • Moira Wilson, Senior Urban Designer, Urban Design and Cultural Heritage Development Planning, City of Vaughan
  • Carolyn Woodland Director, Planning and Development, Toronto and Region Conservation

McMichael Volunteer Committee Jurors

  • Charlotte Burstyn
  • Victoria Luque
  • Vivian Vassos

McMichael Volunteer Committee – Outdoor Bench Committee members

  • Mary Hookey (lead)
  • Jennifer Wright (co-lead)
  • Charlotte Burstyn
  • Andrew Gemmell
  • Robert Hookey
  • Victoria Luque
  • Joan McKinney
  • Geoff Simpson
  • Vivian Vassos

Staff: Linda Clemow, Associate Director, Individual Giving

Adopt a Bench