The reason that the Stool Dolly is such a genius response is that from a distance you can immediately get a sense that things are going to be safe, you can immediately assess your own willingness to think about risk in this Covid environment, but it does it with joy and it does it with happiness.
— Sam Redston, MPavilion CEO
The surfacing of the novel coronavirus in early January 2020 set off a course of events that changed the world. As a result the world’s population has come to know intimately a now familiar 2020 phrase ‘social distancing’.
In August 2020 we were invited to submit a design for the 2020 MPavilion stool commission that occurs in Melbourne each summer. The MPavilion is an initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation which each summer hosts a free program of cultural events and interventions, lively talks, performances, workshops, installations and kid-friendly experiences. The event season for 2020/2021 is shared across multiple locations around Melbourne.
When we were thinking about a stool design we discussed the logistics of how people would easily and safely socially distance across the changing event locations and event types, given the highly contagious virus rampaging across the world.
Our winning design, titled ‘Stool Dolly’, considers how individuals can informally create separation through spatial means. Reminiscent of children’s paper dolls—where folded paper is cut into a simple human form before becoming a train of people connected by their stretched-out arms, each Stool Dolly can be positioned in two states: at ‘arm’s length’ (1.5m), or interlocked. When used at MPavilion events, the resulting configuration allows users to be safely apart, together.