The Church of England has launched a competition for design students, designers, manufacturers and contractors to design a new form of church seating.
In recent years, many churches have
replaced traditional wooden pews with more flexible modern seating,
often in the form of rather ugly modern chairs.
Janet Gough, director of the Archbishops'
Council's Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, said: "Some
re-ordering schemes are being compromised by the installation of
unsuitable chairs which fail to complement historic interiors,
whilst others fail to meet the objectives of the parish in
Anne Sloman, who chairs the Church Buildings
Council, added: "The intention of the competition is to inspire
high quality church seating designs (both chairs and benches) that
can be retailed at an affordable price. The real challenge will be
to see whether comfort and practicality can be combined with good
and new design which is sympathetic to historic interiors."
The competition has two categories:
1. Design a chair to retail
under £100, open to students and recent graduates.
Brief: To design a chair that is light,
stackable and ergonomic whilst sympathetic with historic
Prize: Finalists will have the chance to
pitch their design to church seating manufacturers and to win a
2. Design a seat (bench or
chair) for parish churches, open to all.
Brief: To design a church seat (bench
designs welcomed) to meet the criteria outlined in category 1 but
within an 'affordable' price range.
Award: Finalists will be invited to submit
models or prototypes to display at the awards event. The winning
design will be used in a campaign to encourage parishes to seek
good design in church seating.
Designs must be:
• sympathetic to historic interiors,
• sufficiently robust for regular use
requiring minimum maintenance,
• comfortable without upholstery,
• suitable for use on historic floors,
• able to stack or fold compactly,
• suitable for mass production,
• with the option to be linked, and of
having a book holder and chair arms.
The judging panel will be chaired by the Rt
Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London. It will include
furniture designer and maker John Makepeace, illustrator Matthew
Rice, The Revd Stephen Mason, Vicar of St John's, Hyde Park, and
Entries must be submitted by March 30, and
the results will be announced at an awards ceremony on June 14 at
St John's Church, Hyde Park accompanied by an exhibition of
Further information and application forms at