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Published on: 12-Sep-2017

FERN is a large bench designed for public space with a mobile phone charging system powered by renewable energy.

The project is a result of the “Public Art & Renewable Energy @ NTU” program, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the NTU Museum.

DR3005-2014 Product Design class’ students were challenged to design a visually appealing, cost-effective and functional structure (furniture) for public space that could supply its own energy needs. The design proposal, inspired by the natural structure and shape of a fern dead leaf, was selected by an interdisciplinary committee for further development due to its aesthetic appeal and potential feasibility.

FERN, an 8,5 meters long by 2.3 meters high wooden bench, is now located at the second level of the recently renewed NTU North Spine Plaza.

The bench provides over 12 seats in a relaxed and comfortable arrangement. The structure is built out of laser cut steel structural elements and completed with wooden planks to simulate the fern leaves. The rusty finishing of the CORTEN steel and the matt oil finishing of the wooden parts emphasizes FERN nature’s inspiration. A grid of LEDs is displayed under the long wooden seat to light up when the environmental light level decreases. The 3 central higher leaves carry a set of PV panels to capture solar light and an energy storage system using supercapacitors (quick charging capability) is hidden within the metal structure. Following the Dandelion project, FERN represents the second important stage of the collaboration within ADM, ERI@N and NTU Museum. It showcases the relevance of design among technological disciplines and it stimulates design appreciation as a fundamental value of the built environment.

The work was commissioned in 2014 and it is part of NTU Museum’s Renewable Energy Art and Public Art initiatives.


ADM: Ms. Liew Ming Jia (Product Design Student), Ms. Jin Su Huan (Product Design Student), Mr. Eugene Tan (Product Design Student), Architect Fabrizio Galli (Visiting Artist)

ERI@N: Mr. Koh Eng Kiong (Senior Scientist)

NTU Museum: Mrs. Teh Eng Eng Faith (Deputy Director NTU Museum), Mr. Dennis Low (Engineering)

NTU President’s Office: Assoc. Prof. Kwok Kian Woon (Associate Provost, Student Life), Dr Kristen Sadler (Research Director/ Strategy & Bioscience, President’s Office)

Construction: Calvin Goh (Sin Chew Woodpaq Pte. Ltd.)

For more info about ideation, process, construction:

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