Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The next seating position

When I first saw the 3 legged Perch stool on Pete Galbert's blog a number of years ago I was impressed. Not just by the simple lines and design of the stool but that there were still people actively taking the Windsor form into the 21st century.

                                         One of three I'm making on commission at the moment.
                                                    Belgian Oak with blue milk paint.

A collaboration between Curtis Buchanan, Pete Galbert and Dr. Galen Cranz, the Perch reflects Cranz's viewpoint that in general the western tradition of sitting in right angled chairs is harmful to our physical health.

Cranz's  well respected book on the subject, The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design, urges us not to sit still in the same position for a long period of time, with our spine slumped in a 'C' position, our pelvis crushed and our necks thrust forward.

                                       Number two, Spalted Black Heart Sassafras and Blackwood

In essence the Perch was designed to do exactly as it's name suggests, to perch upon with our knees lower than our pelvis, at about a 100 degree angle and our feet flat on the floor. She also mentions that rotating through several seating positions an hour during the day is a good way of minimising potential back issues arising from sitting still too long.

Just before Xmas I managed to aggravate an old back injury which put me out of action for over a week. While visiting a physiotherapist in Woodend I asked him his opinion on the best seating position for me whilst I recovered. He responded immediately, "The next one." Should have seen that coming...

                                                     Number three, Elm and Blackwood

I've made more Perches now than I can remember and taught dozens of others how to make them also. In fact we just finished a Perch course this afternoon with Helen and Fiona.

                                        Nice work girls, despite being a little camera shy……..

Generally speaking the average person will 'fit' a Perch well, with little adjustment to the length of the legs, unless they are exceptionally tall or short. So I have not had cause alter much with the Perch or to fix something that isn't broke as it were.

But last year a local graphic designer asked me about adapting a stool to suit his particular work platform. Richard liked the idea of the seating position of the perch but worked at desk which was set at the correct working height when he was standing. The brief: to provide a perch like seating position at a height which kept his line of sight identical to when he was standing. Also to utilise a 4 legged stool instead of 3. This would allow Richard to alternate between standing and being seated without having to adjust his workspace to suit.

In between other commissions and running numerous classes I've being playing around with the design and this week finally arrived at something that fits the bill. It took changing both the rake and splay of the legs and changing all the sight lines too but I feel that I've finally got it right. A tall four legged stool with the same raked seat angle as the perch, a foot rest at the correct height which keeps the knees bent at the right angle and the spine elongated and not crunched over.

                                  It certainly towers over the Perch from which it get's inspiration.

A quick trip down to Richard's with the prototype confirmed the results. Comfort, correct seating position and his line of sight was unchanged from standing to a seated position.

The prototype may not be the prettiest chair on the block and I'm sure I won't necessarily be making them in any great number, but it's been an interesting challenge which has me thinking about the chairs I make and the way we sit on them.

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