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Mother creates Bliss floating sofa to critique complacency during disaster


The design arm of creative agency Mother has released a floating sofa with an integrated paddle and emergency flares as part of New York design week, in a tongue-in-cheek critique of climate change complacency.

The Bliss Sofa is a conceptual furniture piece that doubles as a life raft, with cushions upholstered in the same orange fabric that is used to make life jackets.

Bliss floating sofa with ocean in the bakcground
Mother designed the Bliss Sofa to critique class distinctions in climate preparedness

As the cushions are not attached to the sofa’s recycled-wood base, they quickly turn into floatation devices in the event of a flood. The sofa also comes with a matching ottoman that opens up like a suitcase to store objects such as a cocktail shaker.

The one-of-a-kind furniture piece was designed to raise awareness about the discrepancy in people’s ability to respond to the effects of the climate crisis.

Bliss sofa with open ottoman and cocktail shakers
It is fully functional and includes an ottoman with internal storage

“We noticed that, if there’s a catastrophe like flooding due to sea levels rising, if you have the means you are usually fine,” Mother founder Paul Malmstrom told Dezeen.

“So this is for a high-net-worth individual who wants to just sit back, relax and just float away when the water comes.”

Oar on the back of the floating sofa
It has oars and flares integrated into the design

The Bliss Sofa prototype is fully functional and equipped with a water level gauge, emergency flares in the armrests and a paddle stored in its wooden backrest.

The cushions are covered in water-resistant Sunbrella fabric and wrapped in black utility straps similar to those found on life jackets. The Ottoman is also meant to float alongside the sofa.

Bliss comes with a variety of accompanying objects including a manual with satirical instructions for what to do if adrift at sea, encouraging people to “relax” throughout the experience.

“Of course, we don’t want you to relax,” Malstrom said.

Mother plans on selling off the piece and has pledged to donate some of the proceeds to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Flare in arm of sofa
The goal was to use satire to raise awareness of climate change complacency

The Bliss Sofa is on show throughout NYCxDesign as part of a show called Harmonious Proportions by Chelsea gallery Tuleste Factory.

Other conceptual design projects in New York include an exhibition by the art collective MSCHF, which featured a vending machine full of “a functional analogue of LSD”.

The imagery is by Charlie Schuck. 

Harmonious Proportions at Tuleste Factory is open from 19 May to 20 July 2023. See Dezeen’s dedicated New York design week guide for more events, talks and installations during the annual festival.

Project credits: 

Creator/designer: Mother; Mother Design
Industrial design: Keillor MacLeod
Carpentry: Tom Breglia (Liberty Labs)
Upholstery: Kelsey Knight


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