A few months ago, I started trying to understand why people around the world sit the way they do. I tried to link all the factors that might have played a role in development and retention of specific postures around the world and how furniture might have evolved accordingly. I discovered that chairs, in no way other than aesthetic language, reflect local culture. Chairs have no original relation to natural postures or functionality of the human body. By all means, it’s everything but a Human-centered functional design, even today.
Mechanical stability is not built-in with the structure of the body. It is a dynamic system that cannot find stasis, so somatic practitioners reject the idea that we can find any point of complete rest, apart from lying down. Since we understand ‘sitting’ as a resting posture, it means everything to know that there is no best way for the body to sit. All its parts have to be worked and rested optimally in turns. That is why we fidget so much when we sit on chairs for more than a few minutes. This is also why no chair can ever be comfortable for more than a few minutes together, says Galen Cranz, author of The Chair, a highly recommended book meant to rethink Body, Culture and Design.
Let me condense the situation for you, visually.
Such forced sitting on chairs is a major health hazard in the 21st century. Ergo, it’s acceptable to claim that all chairs are models of defective design that has managed to go unnoticed for a very long time. Even though there is some awareness around the world about the failure of chairs as functional objects, there is little design work being done to correct this error.
I believe change can come about, if we, the consumers choose to defeat defective design and believe that no design is above us, however iconic it might be. If it doesn’t work for us, we have every right to reject it. Such unanimously rejected designs will have to be removed from the market eventually. I encourage each and every one reading this post to put your body over design and defeat chairs. Suggestions on how to defeat chairs, coming up soon.