SUPPORT SYSTEMS -Issues of Design-22

Post 669 by Gautam Shah

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We need supports to move, stand, or even do nothing. We use the support for gaining, sustaining or relieving various biological conditions of the body. We need, physical as well as abstract, supports. We need supports inside our places of inhabitation, and beyond it. We explore our environments for natural supports, and configure supports as we create our habitats.

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Primary supports are required for getting in-out, conducting tasks, closing-opening and shifting the utilities. Supports are also used for expression and communication. Supports govern the reach and work capacity of a person. Supports allow and enhance movement of the body limbs and parts, in wide range of spatial occupations and conduct it at a required pace.

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Built-forms, amenities and facilities offer a complex set of configured supports. Supports are required to initiate an action, for work towards or away from the gravity, overcome impedance of friction, bondage etc., for swaying and stopping it and absorb the bounce-back forces of reaction. Supports help change the body postures for physiological relief, breathing, metabolism, respite from tedium and consistency.

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Support systems are universal, used by persons of different stature, abilities, age profiles and mental conditions. Supports occur in one continuum, employed in unique sequence of activities. For these two reasons, some optimal needs must be realized.

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Amenities and Facilities offer physical and abstract supports. The physical supports as they really exist, we rarely use them. The physical supports through their presence provide assured certainty and adequacy of performance, safety and security. It is psychological reliability that the supports are available, when and where needed. Abstract supports do not exist, but are rather conditions that restrict one to take certain actions. These are socially acknowledged thresholds. Such metaphorical systems also regulate the expressions of the body.

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The supports are required for facilitating Macro movements of the body, like shifting the body or changing the posture whereas Micro movements help in gestures, communication and expression, and to realign the physiological pressures.

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In all work processes, brisk or sedentary, one needs the ability to freely reposition the body. Such movements are postural ones, like the movement of limbs, neck, switching the weight over legs, or wriggling over the bottom. Others are gestural (twitching of lips, eyebrows). The postural or gestural changes occur with supports. These are, access height of the amenity, body position and related reach and work ability, familiarity etc. Assurance of a support allows one to take deliberate risks.

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Body movements endow new work capacities (reach, spread, productivity) besides removing the tedium. Such dynamic posturing increases cognition of happenings around us and encourages concentration by stimulation of muscles, blood circulation, and neurochemical processes. Too many body changes may seem distracting to others.

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Balancing the body

We continuously sway our body due to internal causes (breathing, metabolic activity), and for external reasons (like turning head while observing and communicating, for keeping garments in order). The sway invigorates our body and greater participation in the world around us. For such minor swaying no physical supports are required to initiate or terminate it.

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The postural changeability is both a physiological adjustment and a psychological expression. It is reflected in anxiety and boredom. Postural discomfort also occurs due to inadequacies of utilities. Utilities are exploited (misused) for fidgeting. Fidgeting is now accepted as a mode of tackling and learning. Intentional postural incongruities are natural while executing novel and complicated tasks. But postural stillness does not last very long while handling vibrant conditions.

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Exposure of postural discomfort and related restlessness, if amplified, can become very embracing. Designers need to include supports and barriers for fidgeting to flourish but regulate its exposure. Postural discomfort at some level is unbalancing force and a nearby support is required.

Receptionists are intensely observed persons. This is annoying when waiting seats are in front, a reception table is at eye level and its front is open and no other interests in the space. Similarly ‘open desks’ on stage or in conference rooms, if open at leg level distract the viewers.

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Once, our work tables were ‘wall mounted’, to source various services (drainage, power, structural support), but then concept of island work stations offered multi-directional posturing and access. In offices the open plans were too static. The personal table top computers were too fixed for fidgeting around. The Laptops with wireless data transfer systems and cloud storage not only allow micro body movements, but also posting in variable locations.

Designers are offering amenities and facilities that are not very ‘comfy’ but with ‘bearable discomfort’. That causes, little physical inconvenience, to infuse reach, balance, transitions extra ordinary perception.

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Indian offices, once had stools for peons. The wide foot print (legs tapering outward) offered a stable structure but its small sized seat and taller height, were unnerving, keeping the person alert and ready to standup. Similarly tall bar-stools also do not allow one to settle but allow freedom of movement. Aged people (and pregnant ladies), to get up, derive support from handles and harder, taller and a flatter seat, things contrary to these conditions make life difficult.

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The support systems are required for Active or Passive movements.

Ο Free active movements are used by a person to overcome the effect of gravity, for example, rising from lying to seating position.

Ο Resisted active movements are used by a person to overcome the effects of a manually or mechanically applied force, for example, lifting a load, closing a door, using a knife and fork, or digging with a spade.

Ο Assisted active movements occur with the help of another person or apparatus, like mother assisting a child or by using a chain or rope.

Ο Assisted-resisted active movements are dual efforts. First part of the movement assistance is required to initiate an action, but the other part uses resistance to control the action.

Ο Passive movements are those produced by an external force during muscle inactivity. All joint movements can be performed passively by manual means.

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This is the 22 nd (continuation of old series -new beginning) article on ISSUES of DESIGN

 

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FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT + GURDJEEF + OLGIVANNA HINZENBERG

Post 666  –by Gautam Shah

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The relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Gurdjeef began when FLW married Olgivanna Hinzenberg (3rd wife). She was one of the students and dancers (from 1919 to 1924) of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, and followed on his long journey from Tiflis to Paris. Wright, though was never a pupil of Gurdjeef, in any conventional sense.

It is said ‘Fallingwater, the Johnson Wax Administration Building and the Guggenheim Museum’ as great architectural icons could not have come into being without the emotional and financial support of the Fellowship and the Gurdjeef philosophy that came to the architect through Olgivanna. Through Olgivanna, Wright was indirectly but inextricably linked to the ideas of extraordinary man, G. I. Gurdjieff.

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An article by By Frank Lloyd Wright (1934) “Gurdjeef at Taliesin” Link 1 > http://www.gurdjieff.org/wright1.htm

FLW writes > Gurdjeef, declaring all mankind idiots, divides them into three classes—those who take what they can get; those who get what they can take; those who get what they get’. A man able to reject most of the so called culture of our period and set up more simple and organic standards of personal worth and courageously, if outrageously, live up to them. He affected us strangely as though some oriental Buddha had come alive in our midst.

A similar Topic > Link 2 > https://atlantisrisingmagazine.com/article/f-l-wright-vs-g-i-gurdjieff/

‘Wright had recently announced, in a spurious attempt to appease his creditors, that he intended to leave Taliesin and make his home in Chicago. Taliesin would presumably be vacant, and Gurdjieff was looking for just such an estate in America to which he could move the Institute. It is not likely that Olgivanna would have been thrown in Frank’s way without the concurrence of the ‘master.’ Moreover, she, herself, felt she had been commissioned by Gurdjieff to obtain a suitable property in the United States. But the whole effort went for naught when Taliesin once again caught fire and burned to the ground. The estate was useless to Gurdjieff’.

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In 1932, economic depression there was no architectural work to be had anywhere by anyone including Wright. Wright offered ‘to-pay’ apprenticeship (called fellowship) in an architectural School at Taliesin. Gurdjieff seems to have been an incomprehensible mixture of self-appointed messiah, visionary genius and mysti­cal seer. Olgivanna Hinzenberg, who eventually became the third wife of Wright, had a selfish mission to use the estate at Taliesin for her mentor Gurdjieff. But as the fate would have it the estate was destroyed in fire, and it was up to Wright to reestablish the structure in the hard times. Students were ‘used’ in construction and operation of the institute.

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Olgivanna, incorporated Gurdjieffism into the school. Students studied and performed the Gurdjieff dance ‘movements’ taught by Olgivanna, and participated in the outings, theatrics and music that were an important part of life at Taliesin. The concept was the spiritual transformation of the individual. It was very unusual mix.

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We are all asleep, he taught, lost in the mechanical repeti­tion of response patterns of behavior. Freedom is to be found in awakening, in becoming aware of who we are, and what we are. This may be achieved through “the Work,” a system of constant mental and physical challenges whereby a student may be shaken into a state of higher awareness. (https://atlantisrisingmagazine.com/article/f-l-wright-vs-g-i-gurdjieff/)

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POSTURES for Furniture Design – 2

Post 259 – by Gautam Shah

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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