When I visited Scotland, memorial benches on hillsides caught my eye. It seemed so sympathetic – to remember a loved one while admiring a nice view. My husband liked to watch the sunset and Taso also designed the interior of our home so that we could see the sun go down. A good, untraditional solution for the bench has been found. It was completed two years after my husband died and when I sat there for the first time, I felt great peace, a sense of closure. It’s nicely massive, too – the whole family can fit.
Marju Kern, client
THE BENCH WAS ESTABLISHED in memory of Peeter Kern, an Estonian businessman who died before his time. As the founder of Starman, Peeter was a visionary and an inscription referencing this was also included on the backrest. The bench is located on the top of a sea cliff in the Kakumäe neighbourhood where Peeter was fond of walking and thinking in the evenings.
I VISITED THE SITE FOR THE FIRST TIME on an autumn day in 2016, it was sleeting – but the place was familiar, as the Kerns’ house had once been commissioned from us. And I fashioned the gravestone… I wasn’t given a deadline.
As there is a small steep drop-off, I was worried about erosion due to storms.
I DIDN’T WANT an urban designer bench. It had to be heavy and vandalism-proof. I had the idea of a stack of boards. But some air is left in between the boards when you stack them. One of the boards, which was used as the backrest, suggests that the work is unfinished – as it was for Peeter.
I made some small scale models. I considered what effect 2.40 would leave, but finally chose 3-metre lengths. To get an idea of the volume, the size of the bench, I bought cardboard boxes from the packaging centre and we taped them together on site, in a strong wind.
WHY PINE? Not every timber company carries such large sizes of dimensional lumber, but pine was available. The measurements of the boards were the reason I used six of them. Square steel is the supporting structure. We used a wood stain to try to imitate the tone of wood that has been out in the sun or wood in old houses.
Because of the narrow shoreline path, all of the parts of the bench had to be transported to the site one by one.
SIMPLICITY IS BEAUTIFUL. Sometimes it is even harder to fashion something that is simple and memorable.
It doesn’t even have to be comfortable to sit on per se. Everyone will find their own position, they can even lie down on it. You can rest an elbow on the backrest. It isn’t so much a bench as a sculpture.
When the bench was completed, we sat on it with Peeter’s widow and looked out on the sea. I’ve been back a few times to make sure that the bench is still there. The boards have become attractively cracked. Like life and its tricks, cracks appear and it is as natural as death.