Using Biomechanical Data to Inform Student Learning about Chair Design

Using Biomechanical Data to Inform Student Learning about Chair Design

We take complex human biomechanical movement for granted until it is affected by injury or circumstance. As we look further into the working parts and the three- and four- dimensional movement dynamics involved in chairs and sitting, our design thinking becomes significantly more tuned to the human reality and not to the superficial read of something. Charles Eames is quoted, as saying “if you want to tell the difference between good design and ‘styling’, ask yourself “is it humanistic?”

This teaching and learning research project supported by the University of Brighton with the Brighton Medical School connected students of design with medical students and experts in human mobility problems. Having access to a laboratory which was able to map 3D spatial movement involved in the sit to stand motion, compared to measurements of forces applied symmetrically and asymmetrically by the human musculo-skeletal complex between the chair and the floor, we comprehended a relationship of great natural complexity that went far beyond our starting assumptions. Information from this process is available here.

The experience of behaving, observing and mapping around the subject gives us an appreciation of the affordances of things, which is an emergent property of our experience of them. An example of this process can be found here.

Project Resources

See Also :
Wild Chair Workshop »
Objects + Drawings »
Five Essays on Design »