Will ‘manspreading’ disappear from our daily lives? This is Laila Laurel’s hope, a 23-year-old student whose creation has attracted the attention of many British media in recent days, including the Daily Mail and The Sun.
The young woman, from Norwich (Southeast England) and recently graduated in 3D design and crafts from the University of Brighton, designed a seat that prevents men from spreading their legs and encroaching on the personal space of others. And the system is very simple. Two pieces of wood placed on the sides of the chair and that’s it: the person sitting cannot spread his legs beyond a certain angle.
‘With my chair, I was hoping to draw attention to the act of sitting down.’
An idea that earned Laila the 2019 New Designers Belmond Award, a British national award for young designers. In a statement posted on her university's website, the young woman explained the origin of her creation: ‘This comes from my own experience with men encroaching on my personal space in public (...) With my chair, I hoped to draw attention to the act of sitting down for men and women and launch a discussion on this subject.’
The jury of the competition judged the student's work to be ‘a bold and pragmatic conception, exploring the important role of design in informing about the issues of space, people's behaviour and today's society.’ For the same competition, Laila also invented a chair for women, which encourages people sitting down to keep their legs spread, as you can see in our video at the top of the article.
Manspreading, a recent phenomenon
If you are not familiar with the term ‘manspreading,’ it has been used in recent years to denounce men who spread their legs excessively when sitting in public places, especially public transport, leaving very little room for people wishing to sit in a nearby seat. The phenomenon has grown to such an extent that the word first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015.
Take a look at the video above to see Laila's impressive invention...