The Sonic Vista bench was one of the outcomes of my masters degree at the Royal College of Art, and has hung around to haunt me ever since.
It was originally conceived as a subversion of the archetypical park bench, modified very simply to afford unique experiences in public spaces by allowing anyone with their own headphones to plug in and enjoy the context-specific soundtrack. Each bench contains 2 solar-powered MP3 players, configured to start playing as soon as the headphones is plugged in, and to stop on removal.
The first Sonic Vista bench was built as a memorial bench for the great english singer/songwriter (and fellow RCA alumnus) Ian Dury, who I remain a great fan of, and who sadly died a few months before my graduation show. With the title of one of his best-loved tracks, 'Reasons to be Cheerful', carved into the back rest to announce its intent, the bench contains on one side an interview with Ian, and on the other a compilation of his best-known songs.
Exhibited at Outmoded, Sothebys, London in 2001, Reasons to be Cheerful is now permanently located in the grounds of Richmond Park, London.
It has also been the subject of a question on BBC's University Challenge, which may be one of the highlights of my life!