Chairpersons: winners of the Herman Miller / DIDI Ergo Chair competition

Dubai Design Week’s many delights included the exhibition of five designs for ergonomic seating. Herman Miller had partnered with students and faculty from the Dubai Institute of Design to bring us ‘Ergo Chair—Student Designs for Wellbeing’.

Chairpeople, left to right: Mohammed Baazim, Yangkai Zhang, Zeina Issa, Agma Aju, Noor Al Fahim, Professor Carlos Montana, Prof Mirko Daneluzzo, Hashir Pervez

Students and faculty from DIDI were invited to “rethink and reimagine ergonomic seating with wellbeing in mind”; five chairs resulted from the six-week challenge. Chris Morley, Head of Design at Herman Miller, concluded that “the competition has brought out some great designs, out-of-the-box thinking and really intriguing concepts”.

Mohammed Baazim: A Sitting Device

A chair that “adapts to an array of natural bodily impulses” and “aims to perform equally well in different postures”, this one looks like an update of Mengshoel and Opsvik’s Variable Balans kneeling chair; the wood and fibre gel construction allows for an organic shape that “ties in our active past to our passive present by introducing fluidity and movement to the traditional work setting”. A machine for sitting?


Yangkai Zhang: Spider baby walker

A clever reinterpretation of the traditional baby walker that permits a wider range of motion and gives greater protection for growing limbs. Each leg has three hinged parts to allow for height and width adjustments. Shame it’s plastic, but obviously it could be made in a more eco-friendly material.


Zeina Issa & Hashir Pervez: Nurture Chair

A chair for a very specific purpose – breastfeeding mothers seeking privacy in public spaces. It’s basically a cocoon made of elastic fabric stretched over bent pipes with a hinged opening for access; it certainly looks organic as well as effective.


Agma Aju: The Twiddle

And here’s one that’s even more specific – a chair designed ”to help people to improve their focus by releasing energy through fidgeting, thus calming them down”. So the chair can wobble in many different planes without tipping over. It’s an interesting approach, but it doesn’t look overly comfortable and seems a bit like overkill (especially for someone who didn’t feel the need to fidget).


Noor Al Fahim: One for All

Not so much specificity as inclusivity: “designers tend to design for the masses and leave out the minorities” but this bench is designed to take multiple height and weight percentiles into account – apparently by bending perforated aluminium sheet into different configurations.


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