The evolutionary history of office chairs

发布时间:2022-06-12 点击:124

We could have said with confidence to the boss: Because the office chair is too bulky, we twisted our necks when discussing work with colleagues, and we asked for a week of leave.


Thanks to this handsome man, there is no such opportunity now.



Modified Windsor Chair


This very familiar person is most often seen on the two-dollar bill: Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. In 1775, Jefferson stared at a Windsor chair at home.


It is said that the Windsor chair originated in the small town of Windsor, England. It was one of many rural chairs in Europe. However, it has condensed the wisdom of folk arts and crafts masters, rural solid wood, simple and smooth, without losing the British flavor, and quickly became popular in all walks of life after it appeared.


From royal castles to street coffee, who doesn't have a few Windsor chair town houses? It was introduced to the United States as it was around 1730, and it gained countless fans.


Just talk about Jefferson, who is very keen on change among his many fans. He looked at the Windsor chair and thought of a good idea.



This is a replica of the Jefferson Windsor Chair. At first glance, there is little change. In fact, this chair has two layers of seating surfaces connected by a central iron shaft, and pulleys are placed in the grooves between the seating surfaces to achieve the effect of fixing the lower part and rotating the upper part.


The predecessor of the swivel chair was born, and people no longer need to worry about twisting their necks. It is generally believed that Jefferson completed the "Declaration of Independence" by sitting in the Windsor swivel chair he remodeled. It is said that he later took the chair to a plantation in Virginia and installed a small table on one armrest.



I am worrying about how to change the chair, no, it is Jefferson who wrote the manifesto, add a wheel


However, compared to the swivel chair that we stay together for eight hours a day-or strictly called the "office chair", the office chair-the wooden chair that Jefferson has remodeled is still far behind. At least one key structure is missing, the wheels.


Who on a whim wanted to install the wheels on the legs of the chair? So that we have to slide around to improve work efficiency and can't stop?


Is another world-renowned workaholic, the father of evolution, Charles Robert Darwin.



Does the slogan say: He awakened the monkey and also evolved the chair?


The fact that Darwin put wheels on the chair was so long as a legend that it happened before the Industrial Revolution in 1840. The classic chair in the picture is equipped with freely movable wheels, full of the sense of science and technology of that era.


But Darwin did not take industrial design as his original intention and mission. At that time, he slid around in the study with this kind of chair, which was a freak in the eyes of others.


This kind of mobile seat is called a "wooden armchair on wheels", and it sounds panic. So, another Thomas shot. He is not the American president who wrote the manifesto, but an American manufacturer of train seats.


Unpopular chair


The industrial revolution has brought about the vigorous development of the new economy. Enterprises rely on convenient trains to expand their territory and expand their businesses. The bosses immediately thought: Wouldn’t it be more efficient if you use travel time to sit down and complete some paperwork?


So Thomas Warren's business came. His American Chair Company (American Chair Company) produced a train seat that innovatively added springs to the seat cushion to reduce the turbulence of trains. Employees of enterprises have to work on the train.


On this basis, Thomas Warren invented the first true office chair in history. It has almost all the key features of our current office chairs-turning, sliding, and soft seat surface.



The chair in the picture was produced in 1849. The Rococo office chair made of cast iron and velvet is elegant in its low-key style. Just imagine how beautiful the picture should be if all employees of a company sit here to work.


This new design, called the Centripetal Spring Chair, appeared on the first World Exposition held in London in 1851. The chairs exhibited are more magnificent and complicated than those shown in the picture.


Later, it suffered a commercial failure. Because it is slightly different from American values, Victorian Britain advocated frustration education. They believe that hard chairs can show the perseverance and nobility of human beings. Panic is high-class, and new-style chairs are immoral. Because it is so comfortable.


The idea of "comfort is bad for people" has continued in the chair industry for decades, but it has also undergone subtle changes. In the 1920s, the trend of "sitting comfortably leads to laziness" was flourishing. From here, you know that the profession of factory owner already has a great say.


The value of "sitting" has changed from the dimension of cultivating the ethics of gentlemen to the dimension of employers' shrewd calculations.


Real birth



A man named William Ferris stepped forward to ease the relationship. He designed DO / More Chairs. Look at the headline of this propaganda poster, what kind of person sits on this kind of chair? "Fresh, happy, active and efficient" office workers.


Obviously, it is a market pain point for work inefficiency and occupational diseases. The promotional copy stated that sitting on this chair can prevent hemorrhoids, prevent constipation, protect the kidneys, and strengthen the abdominal muscles. It's almost a hymn to work.


"Comfort" has become an important criterion for measuring an office chair. Behind this is the need to create a harmonious labor-management relationship.


In addition, aesthetic concepts are also changing. According to the old tradition of the handicraft era, people judge whether a thing is good or not mainly by its appearance. It was different after the Industrial Revolution. Technology and art were distinguished, and at one time they despised each other, and the contradiction was deep.


At the first World Expo in 1851, retro-style products were unveiled. In addition to the Rococo office chairs mentioned above, there are also Rococo textile machines, Gothic steam engines, and more.


This kind of simple, crude, gorgeous and exaggerated industrial product design triggered the art world to focus on thinking before and after the arrival of the 20th century. The "Art Nouveau", "Art and Craft Movement" and so on all tried to straighten out the relationship between art and technology. Without these thoughts, the Bauhaus would not be born out of thin air at the beginning of the 20th century.


Technical concepts are also changing. The study of the coordinated relationship between humans and machinery has become more and more important with the development of industry, and reached its peak due to combat needs during World War II. After the Second World War, "ergonomics" is no longer a marginal discourse, but has become justified in all fields.



So in 1973, such an office chair was born.


The highlight of this chair is: the headrest that can be reclined, the seat surface and pulleys that can be raised and lowered, the simple and sturdy shape, and the bright colors. The designer also applies bright styles to desks, typewriters and more office supplies, hoping to turn the office into a paradise, and it will be dull.


We are too familiar with this chair, it seems there is nothing to say, but in fact it has a lot of background. The order for the chair came from Olivetti, an old Italian company, and the designer named Eto Sottsass was commissioned.



Sottsass is known for his bright and flamboyant style.


Olivetti is the first typewriter factory in Italy. The Elea 9003 was produced in 1958. This was the first electronic computer in Italy and also known as the world's first commercial transistor computer. It was said that there were 40 users at that time.


The Elea 9003 was designed by Sottsass. Later, his firm also worked for Apple, Philips, Siemens and many other companies we are familiar with.


New change


Since then, the office chair has undergone many changes based on the basic structure of rotation, pulley, and height adjustment.


You will see a machine that simulates buttocks in a shopping mall, sitting down on an office chair and getting up countless times to prove the durability or comfort of the chair.


You will see in the experience post which people share which chair has good lumbar support and breathability.


You will also see the so-called "executive chair" wrapped in extra-high backrest leather in fashion dramas, which demonstrates a higher level of human hierarchy beyond ergonomics.


In the past ten years or so, we have started to say to the boss again: Because of the waist strain caused by sitting for more than eight hours a day, take a week off.


This is probably not a ridicule, but a practical problem faced by many office workers. Therefore, it is said that Internet companies attach great importance to the purchase of employees' seats, and they have set off a new change in office chairs and even office methods:


The office chairs of every Internet company can be regarded as a modern industrial design exhibition-colorful one-piece plastic chairs, leather or fabric sofas, and lazy bean bags are all placed together.


Various types of functional areas allow employees to sit or lie down. As long as they can use their brains willingly, they can even ride bicycles and skateboards.


Opening up a standing area is no longer a novel idea. Standing desks have appeared in the 1980s, and sitting down to work is no longer the only option.



Very serious ergonomic analysis of standing work.


But looking at the past five years, what kind of imagination is it just to stand and work:



Hamster style office.



Fitness office.


In short, the bosses can feel relieved when they see this place, and they must not be given the opportunity to ask for leave if they can change their chairs.