WINNIPEG – A new competition that aims to generate urban design ideas and implement the best one launched Thursday with the unveiling of 17 “celebrity chairs.”

Chair Your Idea is soliciting proposals for urban design projects, with $30,000 available to fund the realization of the winning idea. It costs $25 and a white chair to enter; each idea must be presented in 140 characters or less (the length of a tweet). The chairs and ideas will be placed in public spaces to give others a spot to congregate and discuss ways to make the city a better place.

The custom-designed chairs unveiled Thursday will also be scattered in public spaces, each accompanied by an idea fielded by one of the 17 celebrity chairs.

Thom Fougere Chair Your Idea


Mayor Brian Bowman: “Complement rivertrail & transform Old Market Sq into yr-round public space: build a rink w/light & sound in the Exchange“ Thom Fougere designed this bench where Bowman can meet citizens to exchange ideas.

Thom Jeffrey Garcia Chair Your Idea


Coun. Jenny Gerbasi: “Turn pedestrian crosswalks into artistic murals using durable paint. Start with Osborne Village for concentrated impact & then do more“ University of Manitoba architecture instructor Thom Jeffrey Garcia designed this chair with assistance from Apollo Au to accompany Gerbasi’s idea.

Chair Your Idea


Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce CEO and president Dave Angus: “Showcase Innovation Alley through the use of projection light, drawing on local expertise and technology.“ The chair accompanying his idea was designed by WORK/SHOP architecture office and fabrication shop.

Chair Your Idea


Ace Burpee: “Ice Gallery. An art gallery/bar built entirely of ice. Showcase local artists. Jan/Feb. Forks. $2 entry fee to Graffiti Art Programming.“ Lennard Taylor used his own and Burpee’s jeans in the design of this chair.

Chair Your Idea


Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce Jessica Dumas: “Raise statues of 1873’s First Nation leader and British Officer shaking hands from medallion of Treaty 1 Territory at the Legislative grounds!“ Roan Barrion designed Chair 78, which was executed by his metalsmith Matt Jonker.

Chair Your Idea


Deer + Almond chef Mandel Hitzer: “Manitoba’s bounty for local families: edible garden to revitalize our historic Main St/Creating a meeting place to forage/reflect/” This chair was created by Hare and Hare.

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Chair Your Idea


Paul Jordan, CEO, The Forks Renewal Corporation and
North Portage Development Corporation: “A #warminghut complete w/ stage designed by Richard Kroeker, used on frozen rivers 2 shelter + warm musicians while they perform 4 passersby“ Liz Wreford of Plain Projects designed this chair.

Chair Your Idea


Obby Khan, former CFL player and owner of Shawarma Khan and Green Carrot: “I’m dreaming of an oasis of recycled trees post-holiday season. A shawarma in a sustainable mini-forest? What could be better?” Renee Struthers’ design was inspired by the stools found along the streets of Istanbul.

Chair Your Idea


Artist Wanda Koop: “Create a lantern-filled meeting place between the Pumphouse and the Concert Hall completing the connection between the Forks and the Exchange” She adapted her own chair from an Ikea design.

Chair Your Idea


Global News community producer Eva Kovacs: “Lunch along Broadway Avenue could be more enjoyable with functional seating and tables. Maybe even a canopy to sit under with your food truck treats or packed lunch.” Erin Riediger of Number Ten Architectural Group designed this two-seater to promote conversation.

Chair Your Idea


Tabitha Langel, Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company co-owner: “A movable wood-fired communal brick oven that could go where the people are in the city. Many hands joyfully working together to create a feast of good food and good company.“ Her chair was designed by Fireside Design Build. The cushion is filled with locally grown wheat and the seat is made with salvaged metal from a bakery.

Chair Your Idea


Terry MacLeod, CBC Radio: “Train volunteers to go to every Wpg neigh’hood to ask: What single thing would improve the quality of life where you live? Then do the best.“ His chair, Junior Polar Bear, was designed by artist Ewa Tarsia.

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Chair Your Idea


Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conductor Alexander Mickelthwate: “Beam of multi-coloured light rising from @theforks epicenter of North America like massive pin changing w seasons“ His chair, made of poster tubes, was designed by Evan Marnoch of graphic design studio Urbanlink.

Chair Your Idea


Social media character Downtown Peggy: “Peggy’s Pop-up Pods – could be a coffee shop on the river one day, a local vendor or community tomato garden at Memorial Park the next!” The accompanying chair was designed by 5468796 Architecture.

Chair Your Idea


Winnipeg band Royal Canoe: “Purchase permanent spots in the Ellice and Notre Dame parking lot, plant grass & trees & begin the process of reclaiming our public spaces.” This chair was created by Winnipeg design/build studio Wood Anchor.

Chair Your Idea


Comedian Stephen Sim: “Close down some blocks in the Exchange District for the summer months and create a permanent festival zone for all the festivals.” The Teeter Chair, which requires two people to sit at the same time, was designed by Joe Kalturnyk of Raw Gallery of Architecture and Design.

Chair Your Idea


Tallest Poppy cafe owner Talia Syrie and Steven Ackerman: “Well-designed posters representing every different country/cuisine in the city. Each done by a Winnipeg artist representing that country.” The chair was designed by Nina Quark and Tannar Twerdun.

Celebrity chairs include Mayor Brian Bowman, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conductor Alexander Mickelthwate, Winnipeg band Royal Canoe and Global News community producer Eva Kovacs.

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Bowman’s idea is to create a skating rink in the Exchange District to transform Old Market Square into a year-round public space that would complement the River Trail.

His chair, designed by Thom Fougere, is an eight-foot-long bench that is similar to the seating at hockey rinks.

“The bench is a platform for sharing with others and can act as an outlet for the mayor to exchange ideas and thoughts with the community,” Fougere said about his design.

Kovacs’ idea is to install functional seating and tables along Broadway to make lunch along the shaded Winnipeg thoroughfare more enjoyable.

“Just like every chair on display, every idea is so different and creative. I can’t wait to see what other ideas people come up with to make Winnipeg a better place to live,” Kovacs said.

Erin Riediger of Number Ten Architectural Group designed the two-person chair that will accompany Kovacs’ idea.

“The seat is divided by diagonal fins that invite two people to sit facing each other in conversation,” Riediger’s description of the chair states. “This configuration is inspired by the personal investigation and dialogue Eva Kovacs uses to reveal the stories of individuals who define our city.”

More details about the competition can be found at Chair Your Idea’s website. The competition will close Sept. 17 and be celebrated with a block party on Sept. 19, where the winner will be announced.

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