Story Bench

How might we design a digital and physical storytelling hub at the heart of a community?
Physical artefacts (and spaces) fostering stronger ties within local communities through storytelling.
What we did

UX/UI Design
Webflow Development

Love Theme
Love Category
Giorgio, Jack & Team Empathy
Story Bench


Our pledge is to provide a digital storytelling platform to to decrease social isolation and improve mental health.

100 stories to connect local communities worldwide

Stories give us empathy: they put us inside the minds of other people and give us the gift of seeing the world through somebody else eyes. With Storybench, we want to help people connect with their local communities to decrease social isolation and improve mental health. Our pledge is to allow the sharing of 100 stories from the UK and around the world before the end of 2024 to show the value of empathy and friendship to combat feelings of isolation and improve people mental health.

Bringing design to life

The Story Bench will be a shared community artefact designed to stimulate empathetic conversations in a local community. Its physical affordance will be geared towards conversations - allowing people to comfortably face each other, rather than side-by-side.

Final Design: The Storybench Platform

Download the Storybench App
*Coming Soon - August 2024 * Order a Storybench
*Coming Soon - August 2024 * Storybench Playbook

When close to a ‘storybench’, local residents with a smartphone can scan a QR code to connect to a geolocalised web page associated to that bench; they can then sign up and share stories of empathy and friendship with their local community through their smartphone.

Key Insights

Several research studies and scholarly works across disciplines such as sociology, urban planning point to the crisis of social cohesion in urban centres and the decline of social communities.

For example, Robert D. Putnam in ‘Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community’ (2000) investigates the decline of social capital in the United States, exploring how changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, and technology have led to a decline in community engagement and social ties.

Developing digital platforms that complement physical urban spaces can facilitate community engagement and participation. These platforms can help residents share information, organize events, and engage in discussions about local issues.

Ray Oldenburg in ‘The Great Good Place’ discusses the importance of "third places" — inclusive, informal gathering places outside of the home and workplace — for civic engagement and social capital. He argues that the disappearance of these spaces contributes to social isolation in modern urban societies.

Post-modern urban spaces suffer from a gradual loss of social capital; people are often disconnected from those living in the same area. This often leads to loneliness and lack of support for the most vulnerable people in a community.

Public benches in small communities around the world have traditionally played a role in strengthening ties a local community by creating a space for serendipitous conversations, sharing stories and create long standing bonds.

A digital companion experience will augment the bench by allowing people to share stories that are tied to the local community.

The bench design and its content must have an emotional value to the community that must be responsible for preserving it.


The inspiration for this project is drawn from my childhood experience of spending the summer at my grandparents’ house nestled in a small town at the foot of the gentle hills of Spoleto, in Italy. People would spontaneously aggregate and share each other stories around public benches along the road, or in the local square.

Another key piece of inspiration is coming from the UK: Sheffield Hallam University’s Harvey McKellar created ‘25-degree’, a park bench that aims to be more than a functional or decorative furniture piece by having a positive impact on mental health.

The design employs 25-degree-angles which mean users can see each other in their peripheral vision. It is intended to encourage conversation and combat feelings of loneliness. Here’s what the author says about his project:

"25-degree is a park bench service that uses its unique angles to encourage positive human interaction between strangers and aims to combat loneliness. When two strangers sit on a bench, they almost instinctively sit as far away from one another as possible. This design creates an environment where the further apart you sit, the more likely you are to interact, as users can see each other in their peripheral vision. Hopefully, my design can give someone suffering from loneliness the push to make a first interaction."


We are planning to use the curved bench prototype above (‘25-degree’) and augment it with a digital companion experience to create an installation where people in a local community can sit together and share local stories. Other people can later come to bench and listen to the stories that the other people have left.

The digital companion experience will be easy to access and use via a 3D Printed QR code. Alternatively, the bench should have a NFC or similar technology to send a smartphone a link to access the digital hub.


The first scenario features a 'closed' Story Bench - a time capsule telling the story of a person that was important to the community. A young lady (Anna) builds an emotional connection to one of her neighbours, Rosemund.

Anna discovers by accident a memorial 'Story Bench' - a beautiful, hand crafted artefact built in memory of her husband Jeung. The bench is both physically and digitally augmented with a collection of memories, videos and pictures of Jeung involved in community activities, tending the public allotment, helping others etc. Anna leaves a message to Rosemund via the bench and later becomes a prompt for Anna and Rosemund to connect and become friends in real life.

The second scenario features an 'open' Story Bench; Anna uses a story bench to post an open question to her local community of how to preserve the public green
area/gardens next to the bench. Other local people join the discussion and leave messages and comments on how the area is used by local families to play and spend time together. Anna finds a few like-minded individuals to start a community around gardening. This asynchronous interaction is all facilitated by the bench companion experience.

Both scenarios invovle:

• Serendipitous discovery for people belonging to a community
• Public architecture projects fostering stronger ties within local communities

Physical artefacts with a digital companion experience, that is accessed through digital personal devices (e.g, Smartphones, AR Googles)

Next Steps

As a next step, we will be building a digital companion experience optimised for small screens and test it with a local community to gather early feedback.

Selected work

Love in with us

We believe in making life-long love connections through great design.

"Working with Project Love is...Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
"This project expands the vocabulary of design and takes creativity to new territories that enhance our empathy and compassion for others."
"It has been incredible to see how design has been so simply and subconsciously integrated in how we give and recieve love. What can we design for the next modern century to experience?"
"I’ve thought a lot about love, as no doubt many people have. But working on project love is a revelation because the design element makes all sorts of aspirations and hopes so tangible"


We begin by thoroughly researching the full spectrum of love and it's target audience, as well as goals for the project. This helps us understand what Love means in different dimensions and how we can understand the insights to build new prototypes.


Next, we bring together our team of designers and senior business leaders to brainstorm and generate new ideas of Love based on the insights we found. We take a collaborative approach to ensure that we come up with the innovative and modern approaches to fostering love.


We begin the low-fidelity design process, creating wireframes of conceptual engaging assets that align with your our goals with Fetzer.


Finally, we bring everything together in the deliver phase, building and testing our high-fidelity product to ensure that it meets our target audiences needs and is ready for launch.

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