The act of ‘manspreading’ has gotten probably more attention than it really deserves over the years.  Sure, it’s a social faux pas as selfish and obnoxious as any other, but the gender aspect always seems to bring out division and over-reaction, to the point where manspreading has been described as an exhibition of male social dominance.

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

Enter 23-year-old Laila Laurel, a 3D Design & Craft graduate from the University of Brighton.

For her final-year project called “A Solution for Manspreading,” she created two wooden chairs. One for men – shaped in such a way as to force him to sit with his legs closed – and another for women, with a small piece of wood in the middle to encourage her to sit with her legs parted.

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

Laura told The Independent that the chairs are not to be taken too seriously, but give “physicality to an issue women face in quite a fun yet literal way.”

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

“My design practice is contextualized within fourth-wave feminism and another huge inspiration for these pieces was Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism Project, a platform in which women can testify about the sexism they have experienced,” she said.

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

“I designed and created these chairs in order to identify and challenge problems surrounding the act of sitting that might potentially be more gender-specific, such as manspreading.”

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

Laurel’s work has impressed many people, going on to win a Belmond Award for emerging talent. The award, presented by the luxury hotel and leisure company, said that the chairs were “a bold, purpose-driven design that explores the important role of design in informing space, a person’s behavior and societal issues of today.”

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

Laurel added that she was shocked and thrilled by the positive reaction to her design, which also proved a big hit at her Graduate show.

“The reaction of the people who engaged and interacted with my pieces at my Graduate show was really encouraging and exciting as it seemed to spark interesting conversations and also make them laugh, which is something I really value in my work,” she said.

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

What do you think? Clever statement about a serious issue, or lighthearted look at a minor annoying habit? Either way, a dose of humor is always a good thing when setting out to tackle social issues, and Laurel’s tongue-in-cheek designs have definitely gotten people talking about manspreading again!

Image credits: lailapoppylaurel

Here’s what people had to say about the designs