WHAT IS THE BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT?
From Chris Bangle’s Big Benches, now a symbol of the Alta Langa, comes the BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT (BBCP) initiative, to support local enterprise, tourism and craftsmanship in the towns that host these out-of-scale installations. BBCP is a no profit initiative promoted by the american designer and his wife Catherine, Clavesana citizens since 2009, to unite the creativity of the Chris Bangle Associates S.r.l. design team with the craftsmen of this area of Piemonte. BBCP activities – strictly no profit – include both technical support for those who wish to construct offi-cial Big Benches, and collaboration with prominent local craftsmen to create products inspired by them, that may constitute a small contribution to the local economy and tourism, in the spirit of positivity that the Big Benches bring to this area.
Part of the proceeds from all sales, as well as the donations made by those who construct a new bench, will be devolved by the BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT to the towns involved and will be destined to support the local community. The first result of this initiative is the col-laboration with Carru’s master goldsmith Ugo Bracco, who reproduced the eight existing benches in miniature, in the form of 925 silver pendants.
Benches built until now
It is always exciting watching a fresh idea spread its wings and fly to discover new people, attitudes and perspectives on things we already think we know.
This is what happened with the Big Bench. Everything started as a project amongst friends and neighbours, and now it is winning the hearts and passion of many people, that otherwise would probably not have imagined looking at the Italian mountains and vineyards sitting on an out-of-scale piece of outdoor furniture.
That’s the beauty in this kind of design. Objects become iconic not only because they are driven by a marketing machine, but because the intrinsic idea is so seductive and so easily achievable that it creates in itself the natural conditions for its duplication and distribution.
The Giant Benches are often first seen in photographs, but once you sit on one of them you get the feeling of enjoying the view “as if you were a child again”. You experience an intense feeling to be shared with others. The benches are made to relax on and instead of an armchair it is large enough to share with one or more friends. Sitting on a bench is a pleasant social gesture, and making good use of all the positive energy emanating from the Big Benches is the root of the BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT.
It would be wonderful if the Big Bench concept were to cross the peaceful confines of Piemonte. As our BIG RED BENCH #1 inspired enthusiasts to build more, maybe someday visitors coming from afar will carry away such a strong memory of the benches it will inspire them to replicate the concept. Maybe one day we will see a Peace Bench in a truly troubled part of the world, where the opportunity to sit, see things from a fresh per-spective and once again feel like a child, is desperately needed.
The Giant Benches
The first Big Bench with this particular design was constructed in 2010 by Chris Bangle on the Borgata grounds in Clavesana, his residence and studio, as an installation looking out onto the panorama and accessible to visitors. The idea of giant benches is not new, but the context is. The change in perspective due to the size of the bench makes one feel like a child, able to be amazed by the beauty of the landscape seen through new eyes. The bench in less then a year became a local attraction for visitors to the area. Chris Bangle: «It is a great lesson in the use of contextual innovation. We are so obsessed by discovering new things that we often deny ourselves the interesting feeling of experiencing well known things but in a different context».
Over the last years more official benches have been built in the surrounding area, without public funding, solely thanks to private sponsors. Chris Bangle freely provided the bench builders with designs and instructions, asking as the only condition that they be placed in a scenic position, on land accessible to the public, and that they respect the social spirit that gave birth to the original bench: not a private installation, but rather part of a collective experience that anyone coming to this region can share end experience.
- 1. CLAVESANA BORGATA GORREA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 2. FARIGLIANO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 3. CLAVESANA BORGATA PALAZZETTO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 4. CLAVESANA LO SBARANZO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 5. VEZZA D’ALBA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 6. MONFORTE GRAMOLERE (ex Santa Rosalia d’Alba) (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 7. CARRU’ (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 8. PIOZZO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 9. PRATO NEVOSO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 10. CASTELNUOVO CALCEA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 11. ARGUELLO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 12. MONFORTE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 13. DOGLIANI (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 14. ALBA – LOC. SCAPARONE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 15. ROCCAVIGNALE (LIGURIA/ITALY)
- 16. NIELLA BELBO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 17-18. COSTIGLIOLE D’ASTI (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 19. LIMONE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 20. COSTIGLIOLE SALUZZO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 21. STREVI (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 22. MONCHIERO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 23. NEIVE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 24. MOASCA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 25. FONTANILE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 26. COAZZOLO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 27. CARAGLIO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 28. CEVA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 29. BRIAGLIA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 30. CANELLI (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 31. CHIUSA PESIO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 32. ROGNO (LOMBARDY/ITALY)
- 33. PEVERAGNO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 34. SANTO STEFANO BELBO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 35. GATTINARA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 36. ROBILANTE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 37. VINADIO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 38. CASTELNUOVO DON BOSCO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 39. MOIOLA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 40. FOSSANO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 41. ROSIGNANO MONFERRATO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 42. CASSINASCO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 43. CIGLIE’ (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 44. PAROLDO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 45. MERANA (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 46. VERONA (VENETO/ITALY)
- 47. CANALE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 48. SALA MONFERRATO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 49. ONCINO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 50. MONASTERO DI VASCO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 51. CASTAGNOLE MONFERRATO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 52. SAMPEYRE FRAZ.RORE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 53. RIVA DI SOLTO / FONTENO (LOMBARDY/ITALY)
- 54. NIELLA TANARO (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 55. CAREGGINE (TUSCANY/ITALY)
- 56. ARBROATH (SCOTLAND/UK)
- 57. COSTIGLIOLE D’ASTI LOC.BRICCONE (PIEDMONT/ITALY)
- 58. REGGIO EMILIA – MONTE FOSOLA (EMILIA ROMAGNA/ITALY)
HOW TO BUILD A NEW BENCH!
Chris Bangle’s “BIG RED BENCH #1” is an art installation that duplicates the shape of a typical park bench, but out of scale. So far, numerous benches have been constructed in the Langhe and Roero areas of Piedmont, but new requests are being made to expand to new locations, both in Italy and abroad.
Do You want to construct a Bench?
The procedure to construct your own Big Bench is as follows:
– fill out the form available on our website, uploading at least 4 photographs of the proposed location including a photo of the panorama, a photo of the land on which it will be placed with pickets and tape indicating the specific location (approximately 3.50 x 1.80 meters, plus 2 meters minimum unobstructed space on each side) a 360° video filmed from the precise proposed location of the bench, a satellite image of the precise location of the bench (a screenshot from Google Maps is acceptable), a description of available parking, and a description of proposed access route;
– if the form is filled out correctly we will evaluate your request and may approve it or request further information or eventual modifications; when the location has been approved we will send you a contract that must be signed and returned to us, together with a 50 € bank transfer as a contribution to the cost of printing the blueprints and the sign that will be hung next to the Bench once construction is complete;
– once we have received the signed contract and the bank transfer we will send you the printed construction blueprints by post (we do not send them via email or in digital format)
– you can build your Big Bench with the aid of any competent craftsman. If you do not know who to contact, we can offer you a suggestion;
– set an inauguration date. We will do our best to be present and celebrate with you!
DO YOU WANT TO CONSTRUCT A BENCH?
The Big Bench must be constructed in a panoramic and contemplative location, and must be freely accessible to the public. It must be set apart from religious buildings, graveyards, monuments, protected buildings, roads, children’s playgrounds, private residences. It is not required to be able to reach the Big Bench by car, a short walk to reach it is even better! It is however important to indicate an adequate parking area in the vicinity, since there can be up to a hundred visitors a day! Access to the bench must be free and unhindered 24/7.
“We at the BBCP are very attentive to the historic sensitivity of many proposed sites. An attractive location for tourists to appreciate the cultural beauty of an area and community is not necessarily compatible with ease of access or contextual limitations. We hope the people looking for a Big Bench discover your area while they hunt for it, instead of ignoring the beauty of the area because a big colored bench in the middle distracts them. Please be aware that the growing popularity of the big benches is not due to their obvious placement as advertisement but due to their authentic and natural integration into the landscape.” – CB
NO PUBLIC FOUNDING
The Big bench must be constructed using voluntarily donated funds and manpower. No public funding is admitted. The construction of the Big Bench may be entrusted to any competent craftsman (the BBCP does not “sell” benches) following the blueprints we will provide after having approved the intended location and the signed contract has been received. We can suggest the names of craftsmen that have already constructed Big Benches in the past, but the choice is up to you!
The color of each bench will be proposed by us, in such a way as to differentiate each bench, but you can express a preference in the application form. Patterns, rainbow colours or wood stains are not allowable.
A descriptive metal plaque installed on the front of the Big Bench is optional, but we would like to discuss the option with you. Other logos or references to private companies are not permitted. Since the message of the Big Benches is another, please do not propose “Commemorative” Benches or dedications to Associations and causes.
If you wish to install a plaque crediting the craftsmen responsible for building the Big Bench, you are free to do so on the back of the Big Bench.
Since the sale of postcards and calendars is a simple method to collect funds for BBCP, Chris will ask each constructor to share the photos of the construction process as well as of the completed bench, as official documentation to promote te new construction and the Big Bench Community Project.
Please keep us updated on the construction process and the inauguration date, thank you!
MINI BENCH (OPTIONAL)
The BBCP spirit is to connect big bench enthusiasts with new visitors to the local area, so a feeling of a focal point is useful in visualising all benches in a single place. To this end we offer the opportunity to construct a MINI Bench to be placed in the center of Carru, thanks to the Comune that has consented to installing a version of your bench Big Bench in the same colour in a public area, near to the other MINI benches. The construction costs of this MINI Bench are your responsibility (in Carru you can be put in contact with craftsmen who can produce it). The MINI Bench carries a plaque with the address of its “Big Sister” and serves as a further demonstration of your wish to participate and share the ever increasing distribution of the benches.
THE PASSPORT PROJECT
BBCP will issue a personalised stamp for each new completed bench. The promoters of a Big Bench must select at least one business in the immediate vicinity (a bar, cafe, restaurant, shop) interested in acquiring the stamp and using it to frank the Big Bench Passport of any visitor that requests it. The opening hours of this location must cover (even only partially) the weekend. There is no maximum limit of places in the area that can offer this stamping service.
FOR CRAFTSMEN: HOW TO BECOME INVOLVED
The concept of Community has been and remains very important in the construction and recognition of new benches. To give something back to the community they are built in, Chris and Catherine Bangle have created a charity project based on marketing and promotions related to the Big Benches. The proceeds of this project will be devolved to the communities that host them. Chris and his designers have developed a series of promotional objects inspired by the Big Bench, as a memento of each visit or as a gift to friends and family after a trip to the region.
The objects created based on these ideas, in collaboration with local artisans, will be available in local shops and enterprises, and part of the proceeds will be devolved to the local community. All these products will be approved by the BBCP and branded “Official BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT product”.
Chris and Catherine Bangle do not wish to receive any funds – be it to cover expenses or for profit – and have determined that all activities connected to the Big Benches are exclusively for charity. The percentage on the sales normally destined to the designers will be devolved to the community. For each local community a specific need will be identified, with precedence given to students, schools, and civic groups.
The www.bigbenchcommunityproject.com website may host links to groups and associations connected to the different Big Benches. The charity project associated to the Big Benches is concerned exclusively with official products, but if local enterprises wish to use the Big Bench image to promote their activity there are no restrictions. Again, the idea is that of giving something back to the communities that host the Big Benches, so it is only fair that both public and private enterprise may benefit from it..