A workout for the body
One looks like a see-saw. One you can straddle. One you can swing on, and the last one really looks as if you have to tread carefully before ascending it. The four new furniture objects designed by Signe Lindberg Lemche challenge any given practice on what the most adult type of furniture, i.e. office furniture, should look like.
"I want to challenge the very traditional types of furniture you find in modern office landscapes. They all invite people to sit as quietly as possible. But many adults suffer from back or neck problems because they don’t move sufficiently in their everyday life. So what is it really we reward with the classic chairs and tables?" asks the newly educated industrial designer from Design School Kolding.
Masculine and feminine appeal and social norms
She has researched materials, social norms and the common distinction between the respective universes of children and adults in order to reach the perfect alchemy in the four objects, which she has not yet been able to name precisely, because their DNA “differs entirely” from the office furniture most commonly seen in lounge areas.
"In terms of materials I have sought a masculine appeal with the use of leather, wood and metal – very classic adult choices that aim to make my objects a little more acceptable in an office landscape. In terms of form I have worked with the round shape, which is feminine, but at the same time signals something dynamic. And then I've been heavily inspired by motorcycles and bicycles, which are some of the few playthings that are actually specifically designed for adults," says Signe Lindberg Lemche.
A little ergonomic bombshell
All the pieces have been produced in multiple stages of prototypes, always in a 1:1 scale, so that the models could be reviewed. Both men and women have tested the furniture by sitting/rocking/swinging/tilting in them in order to see if something should be harder, softer, more curved, more weighted. The key issue of the project is about creating objects that celebrate the daily movement and which are considerate of the body, thus placing a little ergonomic bombshell under the desk chair of power and the hierarchy it symbolizes in relation to the physical production work:
"Furniture incorporates an inherently old-fashioned perception of who is in charge and who is important in a company. It's as if the big static office chair is still considered the finest one can get," says the designer.
Not always outside
But now Signe Lindberg Lemche wants to move the well-designed playthings into position in order to challenge the current perceptions of how adults are allowed to and ought to behave. Also when they are at work: "Something is happening, also for adults, and play is becoming important once again. For example, fitness playgrounds have become very popular, and at some workplaces employees play football during lunch breaks or have a swing at their disposal. But these movements almost always take place outside. I want to move this physicality indoors, into the workplace, and observe what actually happens if you hold a meeting on such a moving object. People will talk to each other in a completely different fashion when they are in motion. I want to challenge those entrenched rules of how to behave in the workplace."