Sunday, January 13, 2008

A 50-Year-Old Chair Design and, for 30 Years, a Craving

Ergonomic chair design from the 1950's ...

"The first time I sat in an Eames lounge chair, I was hooked.

... What accounts for the enduring popularity of this chair and ottoman, introduced in 1956? Unlike other chairs that are also considered "icons of modern design," this one is uncommonly comfortable, so much so that when you sit in it, you're not aware that you're actually sitting on something.

... Bill Dowell, a certified professional ergonomist and director of research at Herman Miller, characterized the relationship among the pieces of the lounge chair as "profound." He explained that the angle of the seat takes the weight off the base of your spine while the lower back piece supports your lower back; this makes you feel relaxed. Meanwhile, the angle of the upper back piece that supports your chest allows you to be active -- you can comfortably read, chat or look straight ahead and watch TV.

The ottoman, which aesthetically enhances the chair, also has a health benefit, Dowell said. If you sit or stand all day, blood collects in your feet. When you put your feet on the ottoman in the evening, blood circulates back to your torso and out of your extremities.

The Eameses' ergonomic sensibility is also evident in the size of the chair. Their hands-on method of design included testing many iterations. In satisfying themselves, they also created a chair that will suit most people because they represented a broad range of body types -- he was tall and lean; she was short and stockier.

Today's designers use a slightly broader standard that includes about 95 percent of the U.S. adult population's body types, Dowell said. (The range for height is 4 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 2 inches, and the weight range is 105 to 230 pounds.)

The chair also incorporates another ergonomic concern: stability. It has a five-legged base, which prevents you from falling backward as you assume a semi-reclined posture and sit down. Today, the five-legged base is used for most office chairs because it keeps the chair upright when you lean back, Dowell said."    (Continued via washingtonpost.com)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Eames Chair, circa 1956 - Ergonomics

Eames Chair, circa 1956

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2 Comments:

Anonymous George said...

this chair really is a thing of beauty. i bought one from officedesigns.com last month and anytime i have someone over it receives the most compliments.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good day! This post could not be written any better!
Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him.

Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks
for sharing!

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9:49 PM  

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