Beam seating, or traverse seating, designates multiple seats mounted onto a single, constructional span. This solution is often found in waiting rooms of large public and private institutions, airports or railways stations, though of course, shorter beam spans mean that traverse seating can also be used in smaller lounge areas as well.
The unquestionable classic in this category is Charles and Ray Eames’s 1962 ‘Eames Tandem Seating’, manufactured by Vitra. This system combines a robust, but elegant, aluminium construction with durable and comfortable upholstered padding and is designed as a modular solution. British architect Norman Foster, who designed a score of acclaimed, modern airports, also collaborated with Vitra on the 1998 ‘Airline’ traverse seating, where maple plywood seats can be mounted on the beam in alternating directions, or omitted and substituted with a side table instead.
Claudio Dondoli’s and Marco Pocci’s ‘Gliss’ traverse seating by PEDRALI uses the same principle, but mounts rounded, organic seating shells onto the beam. Lievore Altherr Molina’s ‘Aero’ beam seating for Sellex is a minimal aluminium bench which combines a long, segmented aluminium seat with slender designs an almost seamless seat, though his is ‘Vacante’ traverse seating for Sellex is made of plywood, and it too is suited to interiors and exteriors.
Konstantin Grcic’s ‘Bench B’ for Bd Barcelona, takes inspiration from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s seminal Barcelona chair, using its silhouette as a guide for both the aluminium supports, but also the seat composed of broad, horizontal slats, which can be either left uncovered, or upholstered on demand.
Finally, some traverse seating, such as Jørgen Kastholm’s ‘7140/0 Terminal’ for Kusch+Co, where individual pads are mounted on an aluminium beam; or Johnny Sørensen’s ‘Sea’ beam seating for Magnus Olesen; where colourful seats are paired up and shaped like a little wave, adhere more closely to the bench typology by omitting a backrest.