Body concious design and seated work

With the new year we’ve refitted our office as an experiment in body conscious design. The design is inspired by Galen Cranz – her lecture in Melbourne last year and reading her book “The Chair”.

ergonomic stoolLast year we gave up the chairs for low stools, working with the normal desk height. These had firm tops (recycled PET felt) allowing a direct connection between the sit bones and the ground via the stool. The initial challenge was supporting the torso without a chair back, quite a different way of sitting and physically more engaged. The firm tops where interesting, you’d get a sore bum sitting for too long; movement is good for posture / health, the pain is the body telling you to get up. A softer chair masks this discomfort and allows you to sit for too long with the weight born by compressed flesh, not good for blood flow. So work stools should involve a little physical work to sit – for a healthy posture.

In our new office we raised the desk, creating one long bench, so the new stools are higher allowing the knees to be lower than the hips. We also lifted the laptops onto a bracket so they are at eye level and connected external keyboards to get the arms a the right height.

This is an ongoing experiment to inform our design for this kind of work space. These stools, though simple to make, don’t allow much engagement with the feet, a more dynamic perch would be better… stand by for mark II. Makes me think again about the Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni Sella Seat.

What we learn in or office we’ll apply to fit-outs for those interested in reducing the physical impacts of seated work – especially computer based. We envisage designs that are scalable – custom fitted for each person, that would be evolved with the client and includes information and support in developing a healthy work style.


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