Furnishing Utopia 5.0 | Public Access

PICKET FENCE FURNITURE By Allan Wexler Picket Fence Furniture is a series of variations for a fencing system. Pickets are used as a building material and module. By shifting the module in various axes, seating is created, gates are formed and a collection of furniture emerges, transforming an exterior fence into an interior space.


Furnishing Utopia returned to NYCxDesign for a fifth edition. The global creative collective has previously focused their attention on the home, but with Public Access the focus is on bettering communities and the environment.

The first group included 35 projects by 37 designers located in 19 cities across 12 countries. The outdoor exhibition in Brooklyn’s Naval Cemetery Landscape assembled 18 of the works. The projects were pretty equally split between those intended for human use and others as a habitat or resource for animals and plants.

There were several free libraries, one intended for sharing found or discarded beach items and another housed seed packets anyone can grab and plant. Another was a modular grid-based free fridge that incorporated planters to grow fresh herbs and vegetables.

Outside of the more furniture-centric pieces was an a-frame board that functioned as a loom to weave old t-shirts into seating pads or decorative textile pieces. It’s a really nice solution aimed at reducing textile and fast fashion materials in landfills.

Habitat and feed structures were proposed for bees, birds and opossum. There were a couple projects for plants, one a collection of wooden boxes that double as planters and seating. The other a vertical mushroom grower that maximizes space using hanging buckets.

Most all of the work nods to Furnishing Utopia’s fondness of the Shaker aesthetic. Public Access also incorporates influences of the 60s-70s DIY culture, The Whole Earth Catalog and Victor Papanek’s classic book Nomadic Furniture. I’d have liked to see this exhibition go one step further and open source the materials and plans so the public could truly have access and build their own version if they desired.

Project credits and descriptions can be viewed in lightbox by clicking a photo.

Photos and Text: Dave Pinter