Body Conscious Design
I’ve been writing pretty much exclusively about chairs, posture, ergonomics and mindful sitting for a little over a year. I’m not going to lie- it’s not always the best part of my week. I’ve read entire books, thesis’ and countless other blogs on these topics and often have to will myself to keep reading.
I manage to stay focused because I am on a mission.
My goal is to make this information accessible, informative and entertaining for you. Even though it’s not always a sexy topic, I truly believe the impact sitting has on our health is exceptional. I am a firm believer that if we change the way we sit we will all experience a domino effect in our overall well being.
If you’ve ever done any type of research you know that sometimes you have to dig pretty deep to find the gold. A few months ago while I was neck deep in a PHD thesis all about the chair (I felt you nod off merely reading that sentence- stick with me) when I came across a term that gave me GOOSEBUMPS.
All the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and everything I had read up to that point clicked. I was like “Woooooah! There it is! The term I had been manifesting! The perfect combination of words that sum up what we’re doing at Sleekform.” (I hope you read that in the voice Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter, because that’s exactly what I was going for).
Body Conscious Design.
The minute I saw those words scrolled across the page, I felt like I had been given a gift.
The term body-conscious means the body and mind are related parts of a single system. By including the mind in our thinking about the body, we go beyond mere ergonomics so that we can include educational and philosophical ideas about the body. Applied to design, body-consciousness means including ergonomic, psychological, and cultural perspectives all together.
I know. That was a lot of big words that mean a lot of big things.
Basically, it’s broader than ergonomics because it not only focuses on the biomechanics of the body, but also on the psychological and cultural feelings and beliefs that a person brings to understanding the body in relationship to the environment. Atmosphere in our homes and where we work affects us. We are sensory beings so the lighting, temperature, and set up of a room are just as valuable as practical, ergonomic spaces and things.
Industrial culture has a general problem regarding how we treat our bodies. We learn to see ourselves as interchangeable parts. We expect ourselves to fit into whatever is provided. Shoes are too tight; chairs create back problems; schools, offices, places of entertainment, and transportation limit our movements; and even our homes can be restrictive.
Body Conscious Design proposes instead to take the body as a starting point. Designers could—and should—offer ways for people to adjust the environment to their sizes and shapes.
When I saw those three words “Body Conscious Design” written on the page it all felt clear. My mission was justified. I could finally sum up what we’re doing succinctly, clearly, and powerfully. It was not only going to be easier to explain to you, but it ended up being a turning point for the whole way we operated as a company.
At Sleekform we are always seeking balance- not just physically, like when we sit in one of our chairs- but emotionally with our designs. We want you to not only feel better when you sit in the chair, but to relish the look, feel and design of the product. It’s a fine balance, and we are constantly evolving, but those three little words have helped us narrow in and make stronger, bolder and more intentional decisions.
I have read a lot of very long (and dry) documents about posture and chairs. It’s not always fun, but if I can take that info and convey a message that moves even one person to take a look at how they are living their lives, and become aware of where they are confining and forcing themselves to fit into something that could easily be working for them instead of against them, well then, it will be worth the long afternoons of research.
I hope you see a future of less back pain in your crystal ball, and that the concept of body conscious design brings you a Professor Trelawney moment the way it did for me.