The Design Philosophy Behind Uncomfortable Subway Benches, Explained

iStock
iStock

Ever noticed that public seating in subways, well, kind of sucks? Chalk those uncomfortable benches up to a carefully considered design plan, Vox explains in the video below.

Every single detail—from the stiff material to the awkwardly positioned arm rests—is intentional, and intended to help commuters rest their legs while not getting too comfortable. That way, they'll hop on the next train instead of loitering (or even taking a nap) on a public perch.

The underlying concept behind these design decisions goes by several names, including defensive design. Defensive design is intended to regulate public behavior, and to prevent everything from unwanted skateboarders to birds from encroaching upon an urban space. Examples include sprinklers under building awnings, turned on to keep homeless slumberers at bay, or security cameras in subway turnstiles.

Defensive design has been shown to reduce crime, vandalism, and loitering. But while effective, the philosophy has its critics, who claim that it doesn't always accommodate those with disabilities or social disadvantages, and it may not always be particularly humane.

Learn more about the pros and cons of defensive design by watching the video below.

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Nintendo

- Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $199 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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Bremont's New Stephen Hawking Watch Contains Pieces of the Late Scientist's Desk

Bremont
Bremont

By the time Stephen Hawking died in 2018, he had left a lasting impact on the worlds of physics and cosmology. If you're looking for a way to remember the famed scientist, now you can wear a watch made from parts of his desk while supporting his field at the same time.

As Esquire Middle East reports, the Bremont Hawking Collection is an elegant homage to the intellectual giant. The watches contain four wooden disks made from his personal desk. The furniture piece was one of Hawking's "most treasured possessions," according to his estate.

In addition to pieces of a real item from his home, the watches are filled with little details that honor the famed theoretical physicist. The dial is engraved with a starscape that mirrors the night sky that was visible over Oxford University the day Hawking was born (January 8, 1942). Real pieces of meteorite embedded in the device further emphasize his devotion to studying space.

Bremont

Proceeds from the watch will also be used to carry on Hawking's legacy. When you purchase one, part of the cost will be donated to The Stephen Hawking Foundation. The organization supports cosmological research as well as patients of Motor Neurone Disease, the same condition Hawking lived with.

Bremont is producing the watch in limited batches: 388 of the stainless steel watch ($10,588); 88 of the platinum watch ($10,588); 88 of the rose gold watch ($23,833); and 88 of white gold watch ($25,157). The number 88 is a reference to 1988, the year Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time was published.

[h/t Esquire Middle East]