The Furniture Industry Research Association

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Knowledge Hub Article

Published on 19th February, 2016
by Ergonomics Department

Furniture Design Toolkit for Domestic Furniture

At a glance:

The Furniture Design Toolkit for domestic furniture, created by the Furniture Industry Research Association aims to provide designers with the tools needed to incorporate ergonomics, user trials, standards and legislation into the design process.


Highlights:

The key areas of focus are;

  • bedroom furniture,
  • lounge/dining furniture
  • home office furniture

Currently, domestic furniture does not always consider the needs of users in terms of ergonomics and overall well-being. Here are a few examples of ways domestic furniture design could incorporate ergonomics:

Dimensions

The dimensions of this type of furniture, do not match people’s sizes, nor does the furniture provide adequate support for relaxing postures that individuals adopt. Anthropometrics is the measurement of the size and proportions of the human body. It is all well having an aesthetically pleasing product, but if there is no real user value, then the product doesn’t function according to the users’ anthropometrics. Good ergonomic furniture dimensionally fits the majority of the population it is intended for.

How soft?

Often, it can be argued that furniture is too soft. The softness of a product can give the impression of being comfortable, but does not necessarily mean that it is supporting the posture in a correct manner. Attention needs to be paid to support the ischial tuberosities, also known as the sitz bone, or as a pair the sitting bones, the lowest of the three major bones that make up the pelvis. Therefore, firm, but not hard, seats need to be produced.

Back support

Furniture does not provide support for relaxed or reclined postures. The backrests are often low, offering little support for heads or necks. More emphasis given on lumbar, cervical and scapular support in domestic furniture design could help improve health and comfort.

But what do consumers want?

Consumers nowadays select furniture, especially seated products, based on price, aesthetics, colour, feel and comfort. However, the true value of a product in terms of good health and ergonomics is dependent on if it is fit for purpose.

So what do we ultimately need as consumers? We need a good fit between form and function. We need an aesthetically pleasing design, which also incorporate good ergonomics. We need a sustainable design, using environmentally friendly materials and production methods. And we need modern designed furniture, to compliment new house designs, all that at an affordable price.

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