The Varier Variable Balans chair, a backless C-shaped apparatus you must sit in by kneeling, is famous for the company’s claim that the chair allows blood to run more smoothly throughout the sitter’s body, letting the brain receive more oxygen, and facilitating sustained concentration. Although Varier has been streamlining the blood flow of seated thinkers for over 30 years now, including Lisa Simpson in an early episode of The Simpsons, the company wasn’t sure whether enough parents knew about the chair’s benefits for homework-saddled children. Enter the Brain Design Project.
Oslo-based agency DIST Creative was tasked with demonstrating the functionality of this chair with its target demographic by having actual children design new patterns for the chair, using their increased brain activity. Got all that? Focus and we’ll get through this.
Three children from different parts of the world were invited to sit (kneel) in the Variable Balans chair and work on a project of their choosing. While the kids were concentrating, a special neural headset measured and translated their brain activity in four different areas: engagement, excitement, frustration, and meditation. These different measurements were indicated on a computer screen with various visuals. Young Lorenzo from Italy, for instance, had what looked like an undulating vine that expanded and retracted into almost a paisley pattern occasionally.
The three unique designs resulting from the Brain Design project were made into limited edition chairs that were launched at the most recent IMM furniture fair in Cologne, Germany, the world’s biggest furniture exhibition.
DIST worked on the project with digital production company B-Reel, which has dabbled in brains previously, creating a mind-controlled Scalextric racer using a Mindwave headset to measure brain activity, a Processing script and an arduino unit.
You can see a making-of video about the design process below.