“If the shoe fits, wear it!”… one of the most challenging tasks we face in design can be equated to Cinderella’s Glass slipper… chair selection.
We are supposed to be designing universally. Creating functional spaces that are adaptable and suitable for any user regardless of height, silhouette or disability.But the truth is users themselves (as created) are not universal. The beauty of the human race is variety (in fact, I hear variety may even be deemed the spice of life – wink).
With that said, variety doesn’t conform to a single profile, shoe size or sit. Chair selection and specificity whether custom or classic is deeply underestimated… and deeply personal.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All!
OS… right! Maybe if you are a handbag… even then it’s disputable. End users are particular and rightly so. They hand us (designers) their money, trust and reigns to their brand identity creation for the duration of a project from conception to completion.
They are entitled to play Goldilocks. To push us to specify or to design a chair that is “just right”. They want to stand out (just like we all do). They want something different. They want something specific and they want to be universal.
The patron’s comfort is of highest value to them. They want to tell them their story while they sit. Their story may be rated for 20 minutes, six courses of five-star dining or ten- hour study sessions, but it is theirs. And the intent is to provide the patron, the visitor, the tourist, the student with the level of comfort (in a chair) necessary to achieve purpose.
Fit for Glass?
Designing venues in Las Vegas, was all about the chair. We received sample after sample at the design center for the resorts for every project, for every property and it was nearly laughable. As I continue to design, now for higher education, my desk space remains congested with ‘samples’.
Not only are chairs personal, but they are also palpable. Seating is something (in the design process) that is tangible.
Unlike what is hard to envision coming together for those nonvisionary (by design), chairs can be touched, turned over, experienced and criticized prior to approval and we don’t have to wait for them to install (unlike interior environments) before it happens.
The Proverbial Butt…?
Prototypes and sampling for seating are absolutely necessary. It’s really all about the “butt” test. Seating can’t be evaluated by a CAD drawing or a spec sheet. It must be sat in. It must be understood as it was intended to be used. Adjustments to custom designs must be made and retested. Samples that don’t make the cut must be reselected. It is a process. Butt, it is really all about the ass.
So designers… continue to keep your ass and the asses you may be accommodating and designing for in line. And, (in the interim), please, (Goldilocks)… have a seat.