Design in the way

Michael Bierut over at Design Observer has written a great essay about NYC’s Times Square and the recent purchase by the city of 376 lawn chairs. The chairs were a hit with tourists, but not with design snobs and were quickly replaced to more tasteful chairs. But are the people sitting on these new chairs any more or any less happy than they were before? Probably not.

He writes “when it comes to fulfilling simple human desires, can design get in the way?” Maybe. The Times wrote  ”the pedestrian mall, it must be said, looks a little unworthy of New York. The city may be reeling from recession, but the huge orange plastic containers and tatty hardware-store chairs give the sense that it’s already letting itself go, like some Lehman Brothers wife who has not just forsaken her golden highlights, but given up on grooming altogether.”

It’s an interesting question. Should those using the chairs have the final say? Or those simply watching from afar? In this case the designb critics won.