CHAIRS -1 Floor Seating

Post 699 –by Gautam Shah


This is the FIRST of series, to form 5-6 articles on CHAIRS, (Furniture through Ages).

7 Gandhi_prayer_meeting_1946

The word Chair derives from the seat for the Bishop to read sermons. From Greek Kathedra καθέδρα (κατά-katá=down + ἕδρα-hédra=seat), to Latin Cathedra, Old French Chaiere-Chaire, Chaise to Chair, it has come to mean both, a sitting entity and a place to worship (the Cathedral). Chairs were few, and meant an office or authority (1300 C), or seat for a person presiding at meeting (1640s).

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Villages in the central mountain areas of Palestine, serving as the seat of political and military power were called Kursy. An Arabic name meaning: seat or chair. This name may have come from Kursa meaning a seat in Hebrew (based on an Aramaic word). Kursi refers to a chair, in Persian and many Indian languages. Kursi refers to the ultimate knowledge of Allah. As the word Kursi in Arabic refers also to (knowledge and scholar).

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Chairs are associated for commanding positions. The presiding person must not only express formality but remain consistent, and chairs just allowed that. Formal postures, though have been gained even without the aid of any device, by sitting on raised platforms or ground. The commanding position is more due to the authority invested with a person through assignment, resources or physical power. The posture for such a sitting position essentially arrests the frivolous movements of the body. The first blocks, stools or chairs were single person facilities and stiff elements.

5 A_brahmin_priest_reading_a_Hindu_text_near_Ganges_Varanasi

13 Scheherazade and the sultan by the Iranian painter Sani ol molk (1849-1856)

Commandeering sitting postures are upright, with straight back and legs. The hands are rested in the lap or on the armrests. Seating aids have been used to rest a limb, part of a body or of the whole body. The Postures with or without a seat, backrest, and other seating aids, however, have no bearing on the climate of the place. Postures have possibly untraceable lineage, but have cultural-religious bearing. Leaders and preachers use squatting, kneeling and crossed leg positions, and so have everyone. These positions use variety of aids to enter, continue or get out of the position. The aids include, hanging ropes and chains, taller armrests, footrests, seats, armpit stands and steps.

19 Widows'_Home,_Balodgahan,_India,_1949_(16806770279)

14 Group_of_Courtesans,_northern_India,_19th_century

The dress and the posture for seating have a curious relationship, but the dependencies are mysterious. To be on the floor to sit, one needs a loose dress, at least in the lower section of the body. The dress must be gracefully accommodated within the seat-zone. Preachers, to impress a gathering need to reinforce the spoken words with gestures. With floor seating the postural manipulation is limited. Head and hands are the chief tools for gesturing. To impress the back side (far-off) audiences gestures are enlarged, like the head is crowned with turbans, and hands covered in large sleeves.

8 The_Darbar_of_Raja_Bakhtawar_Singh_of_Alwar_(6124516683)

Sitting close to the floor as a leader or preacher implies being more in level with the audience, unless the seat is over a raised platform. Sitting at the edge of a raised platform or with some fore space, the nature sitting posture has far-reaching consequences. A person sitting on floor mats, is likely to adopt an manners that requires removing footwear before using the stage.

10 Kashmir-hindu-priests

16 cobbler

12 Interior_of_a_Tailor's_Workshop_by_Quiringh_van_Brekelenkam,_Montreal

Floor-seating cultures also develop other items of furniture for access at low level, like chests over almirah. Till Britishers began to command the upper class society, dining at floor level was common. In cities like Mumbai, many houses began to have two sets of dining facilities. The floor seating, rather sanctimonious, was part of the kitchen or close to it. Guests of other communities were never served food here. The Table-chair dining was part of the drawing room and reserved for ‘special guests’.

6 Jüdische_Hochzeit_in_Marokko-1024

Floor level seating units with or without hand and back support allows some freedom for fidgeting (freedom to shift the body in micro postural adjustments). The fidgeting relates to upper section of the body. The most common ways of sitting on the floor are bending the knees inward or backward. Indian and Mughal kings’ Durbar, and in mosques the formal courts of congregation, the normal etiquette for everyone was to keep the feet tucked under the knees or thighs, and not show them up. The nobles sat on rugs, whereas Kings sat on a raised and stepped Simhasan or throne, but using the same posture.

Knees tied for Sitting posture

One can also keep legs partly folded but standing (beach sitting), with or without support for the back. Legs are stretched flat, as parallel or by crossing them over each other. The floor seats allow several other leg positions, typically South Asian or Buddhist (legs bent backward, and foot palms bent or upright), Namazi Muslim (legs bent backward but projecting on one side), Jain prayer posture left leg bent backward and right leg bent vertical upward) Cross legged with knees and back encircled by a band like a Saurashtra Gujarat, Charan story teller or Lord Ayappa of South India. Feet tucked under the knees or thighs is known as tailor style. Similarly sitting with touching two feet-palms is called Indian Cobbler work position. The Japanese formal sitting positions are seiza and kiza.

9 Srilankan_Buddhists_worshiping_at_Dhamekh_stupa_Sarnath

18 The_tribes_and_castes_of_the_Central_Provinces_of_India_(1916)_(14577156599)

Sitting is supported by buttocks, legs and feet and reinforced by spine. By remaining in un-moving position continuously and monotonously for long hoursreduces the efficiency and increases chances of making mistakes’. Sitting, for a long period in a back bent down position stretches the spine. Such postures need frequent stress relief. Many do ‘stretch their back, while being in their seat. But, if task-work platform is low, deep or non-existent, the freedom to ‘stretch the back‘ may not be used. Another stress relief can be attempted by raising the knees (in seating position) off the ground. But, in formal gatherings, for a preacher or speaker such movements convey insincerity. For floor level seats the movement to standing up and sitting down are more stressful than continuing the sitting.

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Post 599 by Gautam Shah 




Malicious use of architectural components, street utilities and furniture, public transport facilities, is fairly common, both, in developed and developing countries. The intention, if any, is to misuse the elements, vent-out dissatisfactions through anger, use the extra ordinary reserve energies, occupy time in some activity or draw attention through behaviour.


Such abuses, of ‘self-harming’ nature occur with persons who may be it “using it as a coping mechanism to relieve emotional pain or discomfort, or as an attempt to communicate distress”. Places where such ‘self-harm’ occurs, include homes, schools, care-homes, detention centres, prisons, hospitals and juvenile offenders’ remand homes. The attempts include using architectural components, hardware, clothes, adornments, ropes or linear elements for strangulation, cause cuts with sharp edges, jumping off a precipice (height related dangers), electrocution and drowning.

Fashion Street Bombay

The acts of willful destruction of private and public facilities and amenities are also abuses. These are not intended for self-harm but physical changes, removal or destruction to parts and components at places such as parks, bus stations, road sides or schools etc. Anti-vandalism strategies are required to make such entities fixed (non -removable), temper-proof and non alterable.


Self-harm was once thought to relate to “Ligature” (word derives from Latin ligatura, from ligare = ‘to tie‘). A ligature is defined as a “thing used for tying something with a cord” Cords of silk, gut, wire, or other materials have been used as tourniquet to control venous and arterial circulation for a very brief period of time. During surgery the blood flow is also stopped by pressure blocking the cut ends of arteries. (In surgical procedures minor bleeding nodes are also hot pinched -by burning the tissue, through a cautery -cauterization).


 The ligature -word was once used for joining two or more grapheme, letters or characters as a single glyph, to help faster writing or condensed expression. An example is the character æ as used in English, in which the letters ‘a’ and ‘e’ are joined. The “&”, ampersand deriving from =and-per-se (since 1st C AD was a ligature of handwritten Latin letters e and t spelling et=and). Ligature is also used in Music for group of notes intended to be played or sung as one phrase or by repeating the same syllable. Tie bars around steel of RCC columns or beams are also called ligature.


From Ligature comes a rather unusual term Anti-Ligature. If the ligature is to ‘tie’ causing a pain or harm, anti-ligature is to prevent situations or conditions where one has opportunity to cause harm. It is used with reference to furniture, furnishings, utilities, facilities and amenities. Anti ligature products and processes are meant to hamper someone from doing a hazardous act by tying, fastening or binding to something. It is a provision that discourages self-harm or suicidal tendencies of a person under stress or with mental disorder. Anti-ligature means prevent people from causing self harm by attaching ligature to door handles, hooks, hollows, apertures, locks, grills, light fixtures, etc.


An anti-ligature product or a composition is one that prevents a ligature from staying secure. The primary function of anti-ligature furniture is to deny anyone from using it as a means from which to attach anything, break it down to sharp-pointed edges, climb over to cause height related hazards, or inflict the parts on others.


Anti-ligature products or compositions are also employed for anti-vandalism. There are, though few basic differences. ‘Ligature’ in its broadest sense is related to self-harm, often non-malicious in nature. Vandalism is intentional and causes harm to ‘public’ properties, but rarely inflicts injuries to own-self or others.


The primary aim in designing this type of furniture is to eliminate the possibility of attaching a wire or cord, disassemble or break it down into smaller parts, use it for climbing or as a reach tool, lick, chew, swallow or ingest its parts or products, or use it as defensive-offensive tool.



The design strategies for anti-ligature and anti-vandalism are to form a product of single material or through substantial synthesis of sub-items. The assembly joints and fixing zones are concealed or made inaccessible. Materials are non strippable, tear-able, breakable, or one can be cut or chipped off. Design elements like sharp corners or edges, apertures, punctures, grooved joints are avoided. Components that require different textures for visually hindered or for holding grips are created from (by way of embossing, engraving, etc.) the same body-material, while avoiding any applique treatments.


Other methods of anti-ligature and anti-vandalism design include by removing access to harmful or harm-worthy items beyond reach. Mono colour and single texture items are less apparent and so less likely to attract attention.

Head Gears



Post 584 by Gautam Shah



● Measures and Modulation

● Postures

● Space Planning

● Designing Furniture Elements




MODULAR MEASURES Blog Post 427 Dt 19 May 2015

MODULATED MEASURE SYSTEM Blog Post 219 Dt 20 Oct 2014



A reading of Moliere in a Salon by Jean Francois de Troy 1728 Wikipedia image


POSTURES and MEANINGS for design Blog Post 526 Dt 3 Oct 2015

POSTURES and BEHAVIOUR Blog Post 347 Dt 25 Feb 2015

POSTURES for Furniture Design -1 Blog Post 250 Dt 20 Nov 2014

POSTURES for Furniture Design – 2 Blog Post 259 Dt 29 Nov 2014

POSTURES for Furniture Design – 3 Blog Post 537 Dt 28 Oct 2015

BODY POSTURES Blog Post 193 Dt 23 Sept 2014


BODY POSTURING and DESIGNING for it Blog Post 510 Dt


Judo formalism > Wikipedia image by + Cpl.Jeff Sisto


SPACE PLANNING for TASKS Blog Post 212 Dt 13 Oct 2014

SPACE PLANNING Blog Post 269 Dt 9 Dec 2014

SPACE PLANNING by Visual and Non-visual means Dt 23 March2014

SPACE PLANNING -Developments Dt 18 March 2014



SOUND and SMALL SPACES Post 128 Dt 27 Aug 2015


Robert Irwin: Scrim Veil -Black rectangle – natural light Whitney museum of American art New York 1977 > Wikipedia image by Mduvekot


WAINSCOTING -wood panelling Blog Post 461 Dt 1 July 2015

ALMIRAH – 1 Blog Post 514 Dt 11 Sept 2015


DESIGN of STORAGE SYSTEMS Blog Post 466 Dt 6 July 2015

DESIGNING STORAGE SYSTEMS Blog Post 419 Dt 10 May 2015


STORING Blog Post 207 Dt 7 Oct 2014

STORING – II Blog Post 209 Dt 10 Oct 2014


Greek Furniture > Wikipedia image by Giovanni Dall’Orto


POSTURES for Furniture Design – 3

Post 537  by Gautam Shah


Supine position is also a relevant posture for Bed Furniture

Postures are some of the body-positions we use to conduct tasks. These positions or postural arrangements may need additional supports, reach tools and transfer utilities. Such postural arrangements are fairly persistent, but could be transient. All body postures have few things in common, such as: the manner of gaining and exiting out of a posture, achieving a stable or consistent position, confirming and exploiting the gravity for stability and transit to another posture and accommodation of minor shifts to relieve fluid pressures and muscle fatigue. Postures, along with the supports, reach tools, and transfer utilities, projects a behavioural attitude. When a person realizes this, the posture is modified.

Wikipedia image by Author Olaf Köhler

A posture as a body arrangement is a utility, with or without concurrent facilities. It increases the efficiency of work, rest, expression and communication. Postural arrangements develop due to many reasons such as the traditions of tasks handling by the society reflecting the local materials, processes, technological developments, customs and manner of accompanying interpersonal interactions. Some postural positions are affected by the body physique or stature, age related disabilities, training, anthropometric variations and climate. Postural positions are adopted from one task situation to another, due to the habit and predictable results. Postures differ according to age profiles, gender of the person, experience and incentives.

Personal variations of Postural expressions Wikipedia image by Author BigBrotherMouse

The prime influencing factor for postures is the gravity. Gravity affects the posture in static, mobile, and during transition from one posture to another. The body is rarely in a static condition, some degree of dynamism occurs due to body sway, respiration, restlessness, repositioning to adjust body fluids, metabolic activity and perspiration evaporation. Nominally in a static position with head held ‘high’, the centre of gravity lies near the sacral segment (pelvic bone). Its location can vary according to body stature, age, and sex. It may shift upward, downward, or sideways with new position of the body and limbs. The line of gravity is directed downward, and if falls within the base or ‘footprint’, the person is stable, or else needs an additional support for stability. Body-fat, clothing, footwear, hand held or shoulder carried baggage and walking with someone are some of the factors that shift the position of centre and line of gravity. Such constant shifts affect the personal gait, bearing, metabolism, respiration and muscular-skeletal system.

Different postures on a Bench


Group behaviour is Largely detrmined by Posture allowed by Furniture

Centre of gravity and line of gravity have some correlation. A lower centre of gravity creates a shorter line of gravity leading to stability. A very low centre of gravity with a very wide body base, such as in case of supine body, very stretched out body (as on beach sands), or sitting in very low -deep seat makes it difficult to shift the body to any other posture. The reclining body has reduced energy usage, circulatory stresses are better managed.

Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Charles Eames (1955)

Visitors room, casual meeting cubicles, personal secretaries, peons, snack-bar attendants, who need to shift the body-positions frequently are provided with a straight back and slightly taller then normal height sitting arrangements. Elders, who have difficulty in shifting the body posture without a support, need a flatter, levelled and taller seat with full depth and slightly taller then normal hand rests. The same is partly relevant for seats on Metro and city bus systems. Seats are curved in width and depth directions. The width curve restricts sideways shifts, making the posture more fixed, whereas depth curve makes getting out difficult. Bucket seats as in airlines and cars have bends in both the directions, to restrict passenger movement and fully support the body against sway in case of accident. The body contoured forms of seat elements are rendered useless, when the seat, back or hand rests are adjustable like through tilting, compressive cushioning or seat height adjustments.


Direction of weave for seat furnishing fabrics are more accommodative (stretchable) in weft direction and are oriented width wise. To overcome this directional accommodation of fabrics for space-ship seats bi-directional, formed through knit-weaving. The fabric fibres are so formed-spun that cushions are not required to adjust the fluid circulatory issues.

Wikipedia image by Author Infrogmation

A proper posture, whether standing, sitting, crouching, squatting, kneeling, crawling, lying or sleeping, allows tummy to nominally remain withdrawn, even during inhalation. This can be done through training and exercise, but also by planning for posture in-out procedures. A bed that allows one to turn sideways to rise-up; a chair slightly wider and strong enough to lean on one of its sides to get out of it; a dining or worktable that discourage bend-forward sitting; paths or stairs of consistent passageways (visual, sensorial qualities and functionality, like colour, texture, gradient and side supports) where one need not be bothered about inconsistencies; are some examples that help provide ‘a tucked-in tummy’ posturing. A correct posture encourages good metabolic activity, which in turn determine the quality of health and performance. Both of these govern the stress the body takes.

Wikipedia – Flickr image by Author Nikki


POSTURES and MEANINGS for design

Post 526 by Gautam Shah



Posture is a body position that is taken with or without a support system, but always in consideration of the gravity and any accelerative or de-accelerative momentum of the body. We take postures consciously, fully knowing how it impacts others, subconsciously, reflecting the internalized or suppressed emotions and strains, by exploiting the body support and body-rich mechanisms like chairs, handrails, walking-sticks, etc. and to facilitate gesturing. Postures could be flitting or longer lasting with many sub postures and gestures.

PX 96-33:12Postures are fundamental form of visual communication but also expression of biological and psychological activities. Postures also occur as a response to a threat to personal security, survival, intimacy, privacy, etc. Postures occur in response to others present in the vicinity, such as direct one to one interaction or a group of people, elders and other people of deference or juniors, familiarity with people and space, eye level, angles of exposure, occluding features such as glass, curtains, screens, illumination, distance, duration, and possibilities offered by support systems (furniture etc.).


Support systems like furniture, offer many possibilities of posturing. Furniture pieces or architectural elements (parapets, railings, steps, ledges, etc.) are designed to facilitate largest number of users (by percentile method of accommodation). And yet some combinations of measures and angles, and quality of resilience of materials changes that facilitation.


Certain postures (where hands are free and upper section of the body or torso can be turned around) allow for greater degree of gesturing, as the head, neck, shoulders, hands and palms have greater freedom. Seating on a tall stool encourages social interaction, but a member may escape the gathering, whereas very comfortable seating makes a person less participating. Gesturing gets a boost when one perceives that such expressions are perceived and acknowledged by others.


A deep chair seat enforces in several different postures. One may push inward to secure the back support, and thereby not only increase the distance from the opposite person but reflect a very relaxed position when attentive posture may be necessary. A short depth chair seat makes a person sit upright shorten the distance from the opposite person, which may perhaps violate the personal intimacy. A chair with slightly a higher seat than required (for the person’s stature) will make the person push leg inward (backwards) and body stoop forward. Contrary to this, a slightly lower seat level makes a person push the feet forward, reflecting informal, nonchalant, or conformist attitude. Dining chairs need to be slightly taller to make the seating formal.


Similarly the height of the hand-rest and the height of work-surface or table define if you are going to cross the hands, place them on the table, keep them in the lap or use them for gesticulation. A sofa-chair seat angle, if flat makes a person alert and ready to get up quickly (necessary for waiting areas), but an incline inwards adds to comfort as well as lethargy. A senior person prefers others to sit on a flatter seat, so that they are more attentive and subdued in behaviour.



Readiness to serve or be useful is expressed by standing position. It is more attentive than a seating one. Teachers, receptionists, speakers and others who use both postures and gestures for expression and communication prefer standing position. Bosses and superiors expect a junior or employee to remain standing (to communicate) till asked to a sit-down. A standing position has a center of gravity at a higher level than a sitting position. So where frequent changes in body postures are necessary, a sitting or lower body posture is better. Bar stools and platform both are taller, because transition from standing position is effortless and suits the escapist. A stool with small seat size allows an easy turnaround. A snack-bar stool is designed with a smaller seat that unnecessary seating is not prolonged.


An adequate width of the chair-seat allows one to select one of the hand-rests to lean on, and opt for micro changes in posturing. Contoured seats do not permit such changes. Bucket seats for vehicle drivers and aeroplane pilots are movement-restrictive. Passenger seats are designed, narrow for economy of width and to curtail sideways (and backward) communication. The width and height of the chair define how one can position the legs, such as cross feet or knee. This in turn also governs where we position the hands, such as on the armrest, in the lap or on the sides of the leg.




Post 510  by Gautam Shah



Posturing or posture taking is part of conscious and subconscious behaviour. Postures are body’s individual positions or sequences of behaviours that reflect the subconscious reality and also present intentional or impressionistic expressions. Gestures are accompanied by posturing. Gestures are articulated with the hands, arms or body, and also include small moves of the head, face, eyes and nose (winking, nodding, twitching of nose, or rolling of eyes). Gestures are also, both, speech related and independent of it. Speech-independent gestures reinforce the behavioural expression.

Wikipedia Image source Gossiping. Author DuncanCV

● A wave hello or peace signs are examples of speech-independent gestures. Gestures such as dance Mudra represent very abstracted information that is relevant to a culture specific group. Speech related gestures are used parallel to the speech, to provide supplemental information.

Reagan office staff meeting 1981

Postures are of two types: axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as left-right, equally posed with two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest, boredom or tiredness. Both types of postures could be unstable, and cannot be maintained for a very long period. It requires some relief or support system. The support for balanced posture needs to be subtle, almost imperceptible, but for the skewed or transitory posture a perceptible obvious support system is required.

Oath of the Horatii

Designers design for important poses of behaviour sequences, but designing for postures and relevant behaviour is little difficult, or it is a neglected task. If one provides for some flexibility within the postural pose, it serves two purposes: It accommodates larger number of anthropometric ranges (of percentiles) and allows for postural flexibility. The postural flexibility allows wider range of expressions and wider scope for gestural reinforcements. The postural flexibility relates to minor changes for relaxation, resetting the body rhythms and facility to conduct momentary variations.


A chair that is slightly wider or lower, a bar stool with a foot support ring, a seat with multi flexural (revolving, tilting, rotating) adjustability, TV or monitor swiveling stands are some of the examples that allow flexibility. Office executive chairs allow many postures, due to the width of the seat, height of the seat, height of the handles from the seat, depth of the handles (elbow or arm accommodation), inclination of the back (tilting), height of the back (mid spine, shoulder support, neck and head support), swiveling, etc. Other postural options are provided through combinations of table top height from the ground, and seat level of the chair. The space and its environmental conditions also play their role, like placing a chair close against a wall, against an open space, facing a barrier or an open area, the source of illumination and air handling devices, one sided or multi directional interaction, communication devices being used and duration of work.


People also exploit the seats for varied postural positions such as seating with feet drawn closer to the seat, extending beyond the seat, crossing the legs or feet, feet resting on heels or toes. All these varied positions help to adjust to anthropometric needs, seats related accommodative problems and allow variegated postural positions. Where possible a person would primarily select most appropriate type of seat with reference to the stature of the host or other participants, own social status, own psychological make-up, presence or absence of intervening elements, angle, level and distance of the encounter, level of comfort and formality desired. Next strategy would be for macro or micro shifting of the seat. Where such devices are lightweight mobile, micro shifting for angular and distance adjustments are done, but such choices are usually limited. Other strategies include body or postural accommodation, such as seating by fully drawing back or upright, leaning on, one of the arm resting rather then a balanced posture, keeping arms on armrest, lap or any other front side device, placing the legs under the seat, straight-up, seating frontally but looking sideways.

low stools Image from Flickr by Michael Coghlan



Post 347 – by Gautam Shah


7 DeTroy

Postures are very important tools of behaviour for task facilitation and intentional as well as unintentional expressions. Postures required for conducting tasks primarily provide change, relaxation, transition, exercise and reach. Postures for communication and interaction may gain from the spatial ambiance but depend on external amenities, facilities.

Interior of Lockheed EC-130J Commando Solo IIPostures have many variations within a basic theme or purpose. The variations are micro changes of the body that help in sensorial perceptions and manifestations. Postures have empathetic and confirming images for the society as these are closely linked to the local terrain, climate, environment. Postures directly and abstractly convey the state of interpersonal relationships, social standing, personality traits such as confidence, submissiveness, and openness, current emotional state and temperament. Certain body positions, patterns and movements suggest specific emotions, that are readable by the clan or group.

People in Union SquarePosturing is using own body, its limbs and sensorial nodes in coordinated manner vis-á-vis another individual, groups of persons, or the elements of the space. In case of social encounters one perceives the sensorial and bio-manifestations and accordingly improvises own responses. Space, environment and the objects are used as tools for posturing. One can also reshape the space, reformat the environment and rearrange the objects and thereby economize or avoid some degree of posturing.

Unintentional postural expression of behaviour Flirtation and Jealousy -postures

Posturing, is primarily for own well being, or sustenance of life. Secondly, it is to resist or follow the gravity, by exploiting or overcoming its effects. Posturing is used for privacy and intimacy. Posturing helps one to control incursions by others into the personal domain of behaviour, as much as it allows one to project a participating personality.

White HouseA person takes on postures with several intents. First purpose is to gain and maintain it. Gaining a posture is to transit over from some other posture, and maintenance is readiness to change over to another one. It also includes the scope of micro posturing for blood circulation, muscle relaxation, fluid balancing, making gestures, and micro tuning the reach and handling capacities.

8071401471_2a6df3c1a4_zPostures are axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as equally posed two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal ones like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest or boredom. Both, the balanced and skewed postures, cannot be maintained for a very long period. Good designs include other support systems. The supports are casual, subtle, imperceptible, or very obvious ones.




Designers design for postures as important poses of behaviour sequences. Some flexibility within the postural poses is perceived or left to the individual to extemporize. A chair that is slightly wider or lower, a bar stool with a foot support ring, a seat with multi flexural (revolving, tilting, rotating) adjustability, TV or monitor swiveling stands are some of the examples that allow flexibility. Office executive chairs allow great many postures, due to the width of the seat, height of the seat, height of the handles from the seat, depth of the handles (elbow or arm accommodation), inclination of the back (tilting), height of the back (mid spine, shoulder support, neck and head support), swiveling, etc. Other postural options are provided by the table top height from the ground and seat level of the chair, depth and width of the table, nature of foot rest, task being handled, mobility of the chair (depending on the quality of wheels and flooring surface), etc. The site and its environmental conditions also play their role, such as the chair close against a wall, against an open space, facing a barrier or an open area, the source of illumination and air handling devices, one sided or multi directional interaction, communication devices being used and duration of work.

6 Taiwan_High_Speed_Rail_0296

Similarly ordinary people need to exploit the situational conditions for behavioural setting. Where possible a person would choose an appropriate seat with reference to the host or other participants, own social status, own psychological make-up, presence or absence of intervening elements, angle, level and distance of the encounter, level of comfort and formality desired. Next strategy would be for macro or micro shifting of the seat. Where such devices are lightweight mobile, micro shifting for angular and distance adjustments are done, but such choices are usually limited. Other strategies will include body or postural accommodation, such as seating by fully drawing back or upright, leaning on, one of the arm rest rather then a balanced posture, keeping arms on armrest, lap or any other front side device, placing the legs under the seat, straight-up, seating with cross feet or leg, seating frontally but looking sideways.

Office of War Information News Bureau The News Bureau room of the OWI


POSTURES for Furniture Design – 2

Post 259 – by Gautam Shah



We take postures to work and relax. Between these two ends we take many transitory postures. Even within each, there many incidental or micro positions that re-establish balance, regenerate blood circulation, adjust fluid balance, reset the body rhythms and facilitate sensorial perceptions. These body portrayal are accompanied by voluntary and involuntary gestures. Gestures are revelations that aid communication, and often reduce the need for re-posturing.

2 Construction_Workers


Work consists of several tasks in a continuum, which require major body movements, shifting of one or few limbs, and small changes such as the head or eye ball movements (for reading, seeing, smelling, sensing, etc.). Work-task related postures occur mostly to manipulate objects, handle tools and for holding. A task is efficiently carried out in certain positions that is an absolute need for it, or to continue the previous postural adaptation. The absolute needs result from factors like comfort, body position, intra-personal communication, supervision or observance, and reach or access to facilities. Tasks occur in a continuum, so for comfort and for economy of effort, not only the work-tasks but incidental tasks for relaxation, diversion, expression and communication are conducted from the same location, position and using the same facilities-amenities setup.

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Ergonomics considerations ensure that ‘designs complement the strengths and abilities of people and minimize the effects of their limitations’. A good design covers variable capacities of task handling of people of different race, sex physique, cognitive abilities, experience, expectations, motivation and restrictions of age, sickness, boredom and fatigue.

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Work-task execution must allow one to improvise the postures, as it allows improved cognition and better blood circulation. Small and temporary variations in postures help in conducting intra-personal relationships, expression and communication. Posturing is a set of three body activities, occurring for the Main action and just before as well as after it.


6 Apollo_11_mission_officials_relax_after_Apollo_11_liftoff_-_GPN-2002-000026.jpgThe preceding actions are preparatory to main action, to overcome the resistance, look for the sufficiency of space and clarity of direction for the range of movements to occur, look for the required supports and energize the body to gain the momentum and balance. Preparatory action also involves observing everything in the sensorial field, co-workers, tools, equipment and environment.

5 Yuet_Tung_China_Works,_a_craftsperson_at_work_(Hong_Kong)

The main action relates to the intended set of tasks. In case of regular work, the routines are defined as algorithms, so there are no surprises, but a new desk, chair or machine involves actual or mental trial-runs. These trials involve the nature of postures, range and reach of actions. After this, comes the main action, where first few routines are conscious ones, of being aware of the environment, space features and people. These may not require any exclusive postures, but gestures. In case of routine work this may not be very obvious phase.


600px-Hindu_women_bathing_in_the_Yamuna_river_before_worship_at_the_Birla_Temple,_Delhi_in_1946The concluding action of a task is the regaining the balance and allowing sufficient flow of body fluids to those limbs or body sections that will be used now. One may need temporary support till fluid balance is achieved. Usually concluding tasks, after the main action includes organizational efforts, such as house keeping, storing, cleaning, personal grooming, etc. These are intermediate tasks requiring short duration posturing. But as these are different routines from the main work, provide diversions that may not be liked by everyone.





POSTURES for Furniture Design -1

Post 250 – by Gautam Shah



Human body is a segmented system. Each of the segments has varied needs of stability, comfort and need for transition to other positions. Some human body positions are substantially formed by the individual limbs, but many others are operational in consonance with other limbs. Stability of the body depends upon the stability of the individual limbs and the state of composition of the limbs.


Gravity is the major force that affects the equilibrium of individual parts, and the body system as whole. Individual parts readjust to contribute the stability of the system, where for some reason their contribution fall short other segments augment that effort.



Human body manifests in many different ways. Position is a very nominal term for a composition effected by the segments of the human body. This is nominal static state, in consideration of stability, comfort and need for transition to other positions. The Posture is a purposive position attained intentionally, or a condition borne of habitual response to a situation. The Pose is a reflection of position or posture that expressly communicates or involuntarily conveys some form aesthetic intentions. A pose requires some degree of posturing, when several segments have to be manipulated and often beyond the stability of gravity balancing. Attitude is considered impressionistic posturing or posing. Intentional or not, it is used to express or imitate through learnt forms of behaviour. Attitude is seen as minor manifestation of posture and pose, but mainly through the gestures. Gestures convey messages, idea, information and attitudes, through movement of part of the body, especially hands, head, eyes and facial twitches. Postures encourage certain range of gestures.



Furniture Design is essentially about creating forms to support, encourage and sustain certain body positions. There could be several optional ways of doing it due to climate, culture, habit, social conditioning and racial differences in anthropometrics. So in this sense an item of furniture is as universal as human body is, and as diverse as the users are. The Furniture item as devised by trial and error and with intense design attitude, both have to foster a posture system. This posture system is then exploited by the user for posing, gesticulation and attitudinal purposes. Some of these aspects can be intentionally impressed in the design, through the symbolism of form, material usage and technological explorations.




Furniture designers deal with following Quarries in their field:

  • What is posture?
  • How does one acquire a posture, sustain it, relieve the tedium and transpose it with another posture?
  • Why do we take a posture?
  • How does gravity affect a posture?
  • To conduct an activity, would you really need the same type of posture in an environment without the gravity?
  • How would you differentiate between comfortable and non comfortable postures?
  • What causes discomfort in a posture?
  • What is the role of vascular circulation in posturing?
  • What is the role of accumulation of body fluids in postures?
  • What is the role of axial balance system of body in a posture?
  • What is the role of sensual perception vis a vis a posture?
  • What is the role of sensorial communication vis a vis a posture?
  • What is the role of metabolic activity in a posture?
  • What are yoga and exercise postures?
  • What are skeletal movements?
  • What are muscular movements?
  • If one had lower capacity to move the parts of body (old age, children, disabled people), would it affect the capacity for a posture?
  • If one had higher capacity to move the parts of body (sports people, circus artists), would it affect their capacity for a posture?
  • What are micro postures within a posture?
  • Why do we make micro variations within a posture?
  • What do postures express or communicate?





Post 193 –  by Gautam Shah



We, conduct tasks more efficiently, in certain positions or postures. To achieve, maintain or terminate (transit to another one) postures we normally do not need devices, but for some posturing certain devices and amenities are required. The capacity to change over to another posture and sustain it depends on the physiological structure of the body, deformities, age related in-capacities, motor (movement-flexibility) potential and response time etc. Body posture devices and amenities are primarily designed to make available maximum energy for the activity. The posture-devices could be support available from other beings. The efficiency of task performance is a direct function of the body posture achieved.


Posture for home work

Posture for home work

Wissam's Human Space Theory Personal space for posturing

Wissam’s Human Space Theory Personal space for posturing

We need to take different types of body postures for conducting various tasks. The posture could be defined as main position of the body for the task, and micro variations that may be required for conducting sub-tasks. Other micro variations include postures for relief and diversion.

Posture for contemplation Caspar_Netscher_-_Young_Girl_Holding_a_Letter_(detail)_-_WGA16521

Posture for contemplation >> Caspar Netscher Young Girl Holding a Letter

Devices related to postures include amenities that allow work in certain position and body configuration. Other devices extend the reach of human limbs, and thereby reduce the need for posturing. Posture devices are also used for correcting deformities and work deficiencies of the body. Understanding of Postures is very important in design of furniture, amenities, facilities, tools, gadgets and machines.


Different postures of participants >> An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768


Gravity is one of the most important factors to affect the postures and the need for posture related devices. Besides the conduction of a task, the postures are formed in consideration of the Environment such as for the heat exchange of the body and moisture control mechanisms. Postures must allow functioning of the important Biological routines such as breathing, metabolisms, fluid control, blood circulation, etc. Postures are taken primarily to conduct tasks, and also allow Sensorial perception. Posturing instinctively takes care of needs for Security and survival.

European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne, Expedition 21 commander, exercises on the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) in the Harmony node of the International Space Station