Students at Rycotewood Furniture design benches for Stansfeld Park

There’s nothing like finding a quiet bench in a corner of a woodland to sit and contemplate life. That’s why we are installing bespoke seating at our new site at Stansfeld Park in Headington. We asked the first-year degree students at Rycotewood Furniture Oxford (part of Oxford City College) to design benches for our new site at Stansfeld Park. The students were tasked with creating a bench inspired by ecology, a science eureka moment or something to do with the history of the Stansfeld site.

They were given a design brief and followed up with a visual research trip to Stansfeld Park to get some ideas. They were then briefed by our friends at Vastern Timber UK on the materials available –brimstone poplar and some oak – and how they can be used. The design had to take all sorts of practical things into consideration such as being weather-proof, the users – families, school children, and office workers – and the fact that it must be portable as well as decorative elements.

This week the Trust’s CEO, Steve Burgess, Director of Communications, Jude Eades and Tom Barnes from Vastern Timber went to Rycotewood to see how the students had got on. Each of the students had submitted a maquette of their design and the range of ideas was astounding. The benches were in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from giant leaves and overlapping bark to star-burst seats that wrapped around trees and lots and lots of beautiful curves…..

It was hard to make a shortlist with so many strong designs on the table. The judges made their initial selection on those that were in keeping with the Stansfeld Park design and site and then the decision came down to quite practical points about their usage, durability, and whether the designs could be made from oak and brimstone to be supplied by Vastern. They whittled it down to three strong ideas that will be made up at Rycotewood over the coming term. One day soon, you will be able to sit in the Stansfeld Park wood and contemplate life and know that you are sitting on a winning design!