It’s pretty clear by now that sitting all day at work is not great for your health. But is your new standing desk that much better? So far, there’s little research to prove the benefits of standing. What we do know: Movement is good. That’s one reason this new variation on the office chair turns computer use into exercise.
Instead of letting you just stare at your screen, the Dynamic Chair is designed to make every task physical. If you want to navigate around the computer, you move your arms, lean from side to side, and even move your legs. The effect is a little like seated tai chi.
“It started with my questions about why I like to dance so much, and how it was possible I couldn’t enjoy my work as an architect in an office environment,” explains designer Govert Flint, a recent graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Flint, himself a dancer, started studying a local ballet company as inspiration for movements to incorporate into the design.
The chair is intended to keep its occupant happy, not just fit. Flint researched how various movements affected the dancers’ moods–spinning around, for example, seemed to make them happiest, while asymmetrical poses correlated with concentration. He took all of this data, along with existing research on how to physically map emotions, and incorporated it into the chair.
Here it is in action:
Flint thinks it’s a physically healthier solution than a standing desk, and not just because it provides aerobic exercise. “Standing desks damage cartilage similarly to sitting,” he says. “While we sit, we don’t massage our cartilage. Even in our sleep, our body needs to move the joints and therefore has frequent motions.”
At the moment, the chair is just a prototype. “It gets quite close to a comfortable sensation, but will need serious development before someone can work in it for a full day,” Flint says. “But many people say that it feels much better than how it looks.”
It’s not fully usable yet–movements only control the cursor, and features like typing still have to be built. Even the mouse is not easy to use. “At the moment it feels like playing a game to click on an item,” Flint says. “The aim is to make a computer interface that allows people to work with typing, graphics, editing software, browsing and music making for daily use, without having the feeling it goes against their intuition.”
“My quest is to find an integration of movement, function, and emotions,” he adds.