This project started as a spin off project with one of the leading creative agencies in Portland, Evolve Collaboration and a 100 year old public furniture maker in Japan, Kotobuki.

Uplift PDX has orchestrated a one week creative workshop back in the Summer of 2017 with these two companies. At the end of this creative workshop, the Kotobuki team had come up with over 200 new ideas for a new bench project.

The two design teams kept in touch after the workshop and when the Evolve team found out there was an International bench design competition coming to Portland in the Summer of 2018, they decided to enter into this competition by collaborating together.

Hard at Work

The project itself is a simple street bench design competition, but the process of collaborating between two companies in different countries was a challenge with a 17 hour time difference and language barrier.

Each of the team members, as well as the Uplift crew spent countless hours sending files, and Skype meeting.

On top of the many hours spent over online correspondance, the Evolve team members Chris Butler, Christian Freissler and Katsu Tanaka from Uplift PDX, all went to visit the Kotobuki team in Japan for the final design meeting.

More Than We Imagined

We all spent a lot more time than we ever expected to create a final design for the bench, but the end result was more than we imagined. We came up with the bench called, “Lookout,” which included a bike rack and high chair style bench that fits Portlandʻs vibe.

We were chosen as finalist, 15 benches from over 200 entries from all over the world.

It was such an honor to be a finalist but at the same time, that means we had to create an actual 1:1 scale fully functional bench that will be installed at Portland Waterfront park for 6 months within a month and a half timeline.

We decided that the frame part of this bench will be manufactured at the Kotobuki factory in Japan and the wood panel and assembly would be created by the Evolve team in Portland.

We had strict timelines and benchmarks to hit the deadline, but we finished it in time!

In the end, we did not win the competition but we proved that was possible to collaborate between two companies in Japan and the USA to make something amazing if we all have a positive intention and share a clear vision.

For us at Uplift, it is so amazing to see two companies that had no connection just a few months ago being connected and now creating something totally new to the world.

Our mission to inspire, connect and uplift are truly shown through this project.


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