This adorable video (h/t: Gothamist) shows SVA MFA design students Lizzy Showman and Kathleen Fitzgerald passing out customized bus seat cushions to surprised bus drivers on the M15 line in mid-November. This was part of a course called “Can Design Touch Someone’s Heart,” taught by Stefan Sagmeister. The gifting of the cushions, shown in the video above, is pretty touching. Showman and Fitzgerald told us, “A majority [of drivers] said they’d been doing this for 20 or 30 years, and it’s taken this long for someone to say thank you.”
The two, who paired up for the project when they discovered they both took the M15, passed out cushions to 50 different drivers for about 3 hours after the morning rush hour. (A few passengers clapped upon witnessing the gifting; one asked for his own cushion but was told the cushions were only for drivers.)
Showman and Fitzgerald are now working on funding for another go-round — “We have 50 to 100 bus drivers asking where we were!” they said, and “there are more than 400 bus drivers on that route.” Though the first round of cushions cost $600 — processing and printing had to be figured out and the process refined — they speculate that a bulk order (with manufacturing systems in place) would be cheaper. They’re applying for a grant through AIGA; if that doesn’t work, they may try Kickstarter, or simply ask for donations on their website.
Why bus cushions? “We thought it would be fun and something they could actually use,” they said. “One of the drivers even told us that the seats are pretty awful and uncomfortable.” Clearly, the cushions were appreciated.
There’s also a broader scope: “We wanted to inspire other communities to do this as well, whether it be butt cushions or something else, to spread the message. The M15, which goes from Harlem to the South Ferry, is the second busiest line in America, and the drivers do the route two or three times in an 8-hour day. We just want them to know they’re appreciated, and we want to keep the good things coming. Money is being spent on things that aren’t necessary in our lives, and a thank you can go so far.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 15, 2011