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Designing for Well-being: Exemplary Ergonomic Seating Designs for Maximum ComfortAuthor: Radmila Durasinovic
Designing for Well-being: Exemplary Ergonomic Seating Designs for Maximum Comfort
In discussions on design, aesthetics sometimes take precedence over functionality, leading to a disregard for the fact that a well-designed object must properly fulfil its primary purpose. When it comes to seating design, ergonomics play a crucial role, evolving over the 19th and 20th centuries to become a primary concern of designing today. This evolution was driven by a deeper understanding of human anatomy and the recognition of the significance of proper posture for overall health.
Throughout the 20th century, designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, and George Nelson dedicated themselves to creating chairs that seamlessly combined comfort, support, and style. Advancements in materials such as moulded plywood and plastic have enabled the development of more ergonomic shapes and contours. The growing office culture and increased concern for workplace health has spurred a heightened interest in ergonomic office chairs, with designs that often feature adjustable height, lumbar support, and armrests to cater to individual needs. We have selected six ergonomic designs that place comfort and well-being at the fore, mapping the development of ergonomic seating from the beginnings of modernism and its preoccupation with the functionality of objects, to the more recent focus on challenging seating conventions,
The 4 Chaise longue à réglage continu was designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in 1928 and showcased at the Paris Salon d’Automne in 1929. This chair beautifully exemplifies the harmony between form and function that is achieved through a deft balance between design purity and comfort. Stemming from Le Corbusier's analysis of lounge chairs and the proportions in the Modulor, this chaise longue embraces the idea of comfort through its seat shape, which is carefully crafted to follow the natural contours of the body. The angles of the recliner promote relaxation, while providing a comforting stability in the design of the sturdy base. Highly original at the time of creation, the LC4 remains a timeless and iconic design today.
In 1956, the renowned designer couple Charles and Ray Eames introduced the Eames Lounge Chair in collaboration with the furniture company Herman Miller. Their vision was to craft a lavish and comfortable lounge chair that combined modern materials with traditional craftsmanship. Drawing inspiration from the classic English club chair, the Eameses sought to infuse contemporary elements into the design using innovative techniques and materials. The chair's ergonomic and gracefully curved shell was achieved through a meticulous process of moulding and pressing layers of wood together under heat, resulting in a form that complements the human body. Since its creation, the designer duo’s first design for the high-end furniture market has become known as the design of the designer furniture market, achieving its iconic status not only through the fame of its creator, or for the appeal of its form, but also for its exceptional comfort.
When Yrjö Kukkapuro was designing the Karuselli Lounge Chair, his aim was to achieve ultimate comfort by combining function, ergonomics, and organic form in one design. The idea for the chair reportedly came to him while playing outside, making snow chairs with his daughter. To perfect the dimensions, Kukkapuro dedicated several years to sculpting the chair, resulting in the iconic form we see today, which was finalised in 1964. The chair quickly gained international acclaim, with Gio Ponti selecting it for the cover of Domus magazine in 1966, and Sir Terence Conran proclaiming it as his favourite chair. The Karuselli Lounge Chair's ergonomic design, inspired by the human body, continues to provide unprecedented comfort even today.
Toshiyuki Kita dedicated his life to revitalising and promoting traditional Japanese crafts and industries, and is known for his innovative seating designs characterised by their flexibility, adaptability, and transformative features. One of Kita's most celebrated products is the Wink Armchair, designed with different configurations for varying levels of relaxation. Featuring contoured cushions and soft padding that perfectly conforms to the body's shape, the armchair transforms into a chaise longue by unfolding its base. The quirky furniture piece has gained recognition since its initial release, being featured in prestigious museums like The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA).
Founded at the beginning of the 20th century, Herman Miller grew from a small company manufacturing furniture in historic revival styles to a major corporation with a key role in defining the modern workplace with its innovative designs. Designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, the Aeron Chair was first introduced in 1994 and quickly became popular for its innovative design focusing on delivering optimal comfort and support for prolonged seated work. The chair's ergonomic design follows the natural contours of the human body, providing excellent support to the back, shoulders, and hips, promoting a healthy sitting posture, and reducing discomfort or strain during long periods of sitting. Today, the Aeron chair is the benchmark for ergonomic seating, being the company’s best known and most sold office chair, with Herman Miller calling it “the best work chair on Earth”—a testament to its supreme and lasting comfort.
Designed by Peter Opsvik for Varier, the Gravity Chair is one in a line of the Norwegian designer’s unconventional and playful seating solutions that aim to challenge our stereotypical sitting habits and break away from the norms of sitting still. The Gravity chair was designed with the idea of offering a versatile and multifunctional seating solution that allows for both relaxation and productivity. Its four adjustable angles allow users to effortlessly switch between various postures, providing a dynamic and adaptable seating experience with just one chair.
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