On Making Chairs Comfortable
How to fit the seat to the sitter.
Many contemporary chair designers seem more interested in innovation than in good seating. The imagination must be indulged, but should the end product please the eye at the expense of the body? Dr. Janet Travell, who was once therapist to President Kennedy (it was she who prescribed the rocking chair as back therapy) points out, “You wouldn’t dream of buying shoes that don’t fit you. But have you ever stopped to consider whether the chairs you sit in are right for you? One can go into most homes and not find a single chair that’s properly designed to support the framework of the human body.”
The industrial designer, in his eagerness to take advantage of new production techniques and materials, may mistakenly assume that human flesh and bones will conform to the same configurations as plastic and steel. Discomfort, however, is not always a deficiency. Thonet’s most…