Metrobench by Stephen Shaheen is a conceptually-driven sculptural seating element using recycled New York City Metrocards.
Stephen was inspired to use these discarded objects — once very personal and expendable — in a way that reflects the manner in which mass transit joins many diverse lives into a single moment or path together. The Metrocard represents movement for people; Metrobench is a point of rest for people.
Millions of New Yorkers, with their separate lives, are brought together on the transit system every day. In this sculptural seat, each card, with its distinct and intimate history is stitched together into a fluid tapestry.
Metrobench was assembled completely by hand, card by card. Using Craigslist, Stephen harnessed the people of New York to help him gather 5,000 Metrocards in under a week. “There is something very personal about handling so many small belongings that were once riding around in peoples’ pockets. There are untold personal stories in that inconspicuous, flimsy plastic,” he says.
Unveiled this month at Sloan Fine Art Gallery, Metrobench is a single edition design generated by a New York City prompt. However Stephen says that he plans additional iterations on this same theme in the future.