Grey Field - Search for an intermediate solution on the field of seating.

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master's Degree Programme in Furniture Design
Kalustesuunnittelun maisteriohjelma
The appearance of chairs, and the way we sit haven’t really changed since centuries, despite developments in our lifestyle in the past one and a half century. Increasingly more people spend increasingly more time sitting unhealthily. The chair simply has not kept up with these developments and the new demands generated by them. There are still some very fundamental (ergonomic) problems with sitting, since it is not a natural position: it is indeed a paradox that the usage of conventional chairs still keeps increasing. This phenomena raises the question why still should we use these chairs if we have alternatives? The alternatives offer healthier position on the long run but only for a narrow group of people: in general we can say that we gain a more healthy position, but we lose the general usability. For example the kneeling chair puts unbearable stress on the knees for elderly people, or the saddle-chair is not usable with short skirt, etc. There are situations however where many different people have to be seated at the same time and these alternative solutions can not offer acceptable accommodation for all. Virtually we have two extremes, the conventional chair, characterized by general usability, but not particularly good for anyone and the alternative solutions, which while very favorable for a particular group, exclude others. Currently there is no gradual transition between the two, it is truly a black and white situation. This is where I see an unfilled gap even though the demand exists: there are several situations, spaces (e.g. waiting areas, auditoriums, restaurants, cafeteria) where general usability and a more healthy position would be beneficial. With my degree project I am exploring what is between the two extremes: what can be the gray between the black and the white? I am searching for the delicate balance and the right compromise between the two. The main aim of this degree project is to overcome this schism and offer ideas which could mean the way forward in seating design. The end result is a chair built on and mergeing the experiences accumulated in the field of sitting, which necessitated a comprehensive analysis of the already existing solutions. But this project points further than just a thesis topic, it holds much more potential. My goal was to create a framework of principles for myself which I can use as a guideline in the future as well, as the issues uncovered here are generally true and valid for a long time. They can form a solid basis for any future designs as comfort and usage should be an implicit starting point of any object.
Hakala, Pentti
Thesis advisor
Järvisalo, Jouko
Takala, Esa-Pekka
chair, ergonomics, sustainability, passivity
Other note
  • Two chairs - prototypes - in two different versions: one with armrest and upholstery and basic one.