MakeShift: Design Tips to Thwart Drunken Urinators

Tree Bench
Gilberto Schaefer and Jared Higbee
Shh, a little tree bench is being built outside.

MakeShift is a new design series for city dwellers with roommates, space constrictions, and other such awkwardness. It's a conversation for people who are being artful with their space and kicking ass while doing it.

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Jared Higbee and Michael Morse, bartenders with backgrounds in bioengineering and self-taught furniture building, respectively, are roommates who are all about making stuff, parties, and preventing drunks from nearby bars from pissing on their tree outside.

To accomplish the latter, they built a "tree bench."

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Clear lacquer brings out natural beauty for your natural booty.

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Would you pee on this tree bench mini-garden? Do you kiss you mother with that pee?

"That took care of the problem," said Michael. And was a much more Zen solution than trading shifts on the stoop with a shotgun.

Of course, the tree bench's mini-garden still has kinks. "We have a customer at the bar," Jared said. "He's an arborist for the Botanical Gardens, worried that the 15 inches of soil is suffocating the tree root. I'm worried, too. My mother was a botanist and so was my grandfather. I plan to excavate around the tree for ventilation. I also want to light it with solar powered LEDs nestled within the tree."

And that is the lesson of the day, folks. Anything is possible with LEDs. Anything. Like this LED lamp powered by 300 Apples. Or these solar-powered LED spheres dancing with the Sumida river in this year's Tokyo Hotaru Festival. For Jared, who Michael calls "the synergizer bunny," what could his urban tree lighting solution be? Something in a jar? On a string? A rabbit in a hat? With a bat?

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"I got that one at a yard sale in Utah, outfitted it with bulbs and rewired it."

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"Jared is the clean lines guy," Michael said. "Personally, I hate those design magazines where the room looks like a hotel. They won't even put a bowl of fruit on the table. It's like no one lives there."

The table in the Michael/Jared kitchen is realistic, lived-in, and can afford to be ping-pong table sized (just sayin') since seating tucks underneath. Michael built two bench/shelf units tailored to nest into the table to configure a dinner for eight, LED project space, or Hawaiian party buffet.

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"A lot of cookbooks are made coffee table-size," said Michael. "Who has a coffee table in their kitchen?" We don't know anyone with a coffee table in their kitchen.

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Sterile is boring, but the Michael/Jared kitchen is tongue-in-cheek hospital chic.
Here's how they handle their biohazards:

"Those are bar trash cans I got from work. I spray-painted them. Jared made the stencils. You gotta go to Blick and get good spray paint that will adhere to plastic."

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Their equipment goes here:

"The pot rack is made from a bed frame I found on the street. I spray painted it filing cabinet gray."

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Where's the first aid station? Next to the knives, silly goose! Don't most accidents happen in the home? When you're having a knife fight? Any prep cook working with avocados will tell you it's not a bad idea to have safety provisions. Especially if they're old school Mickey Mouse safety provisions.
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Bam! A utilitarian home that never smells like pee at the door, and never takes itself too seriously.

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Sweet! I love when people make awkward spaces work just perfectly for them!

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