Ergonomics is a particularly modern concept; it didn’t have a lot of relevance until the contemporary era. When we talk about it, we are usually talking about how comfortable a person feels when sitting in a chair, and what type of mechanics we can include on the chair, or bed, or sofa, to make it even more comfortable. When Charles and Ray Eames were creating their designs, including the Aluminum Group of office chairs and the Eames Lounge chair, they weren’t necessarily thinking about ergonomics, but they were indeed thinking about comfort, and they had an understanding of how to make an item more comfortable.
This concept, however, permeated everything that they made, including the Eames office chairs. If you think about it, their design resembles the principal idea that we all have when it comes to an office chair, but the curves and the overall shape do differ from the shapes of other chairs, and sofas, and loveseats, for example. This particular design does have an ergonomic effect, and today we’re going to explain why, and also examine how this ergonomic effect can help your office and your body.
The natural recline of Eames office chairs
The design of the Eames Aluminum Group of office chairs, specifically the ribbed back chair, which is the poster child for all the collection, is not a complete 90-degree angle from the end of the back to the seat. You can see this for yourself: there is a curve at the very intersection of back and seat in these chairs, and that curve actually becomes a wave shape when you look at back in general. The seat, in contrast, is completely straight.
What are the Eameses trying to pint out with this particular design? What were they trying to achieve? The first answer, and the one that makes the most sense, has to do with the human body itself. What we mean is that these design decisions pointed out to the creators trying to adapt the chair to the human body. As you might already know, we’re not completely straight in our bodily design: our spine is curved at a certain angle, sometimes more than once. It isn’t a straight line that keeps us stiff and erect but rather a conjunction of small pieces that allows us to adapt our back to many different environments when we rest it against something, in this case, a chair when sitting down.
How this design helps you and your back
The Eames office chairs take out the intersection between back and seat so the shape of your actual spine has a better chance of feeling comfortable when sitting on the chair, and also a better chance of adapting to it when you recline backwards or even when you slouch forward (when you’re concentrating in a particular task). The addition of heavy padding is meant for you to sink directly on the chair, which provides a comfortable space for the body to distribute its own weight.
Soft pad chairs might be more ergonomic than the ribbed chairs because of this fact, however, not everyone has the soft pad chair as their primary option. In fact, the ribbed back design is way more prevalent and famous. Is this because of aesthetics or because or ergonomics? Meaning that, is this because of how the chair looks or because of how it works with your body? In our opinion, both chairs, having the shape that the Eames designed, have the same ergonomic capabilities, with the added perk of soft padding in the less famous model.