how do you create comfortable modern furniture?

i work for a manufacturer that designs office furniture. I have recently shown them a new lounge chair concept that is very rectilinear in form.

they like the overall concept, but want it to be comfortable as well. This is tricky as i want to keep the form very square with minimal radius, meaning the foam underneath the fabric has to be very dense, therefore, comfort is sacrificed. This is especially true for the seat cushion.

Is there any way of having a comfortable seat cushion that also keeps fairly crisp edges? Like for instance combing soft and hard foams in some manner? Or is it as simple as compromising and using a medium density foam?

Any suggestions are appreciated…

My comment only comes in the form of having just sat in a “modern rectalinear” sofa for a few hours the other night. In general it was a neat looking piece of furniture but it was horribly uncomfortable for anything more than a few minutes. The comments that came out during the party were:

  1. It was too deep. To rest your back you had to sit way back in the couch. The shorter women couldn’t sit on the couch and bend their knees.

  2. Too hard. It looked soft and comfy. But when you went ot sit, you damn near broke your tailbone.

  3. Back too low. The back came up to the middle of my spine. My core fitness was not good enough to sit comfortably in this couch :wink:

I would agree on all points. I love a great looking, low-style sleek couch, but they are incredibly uncomfortable unless you are a 5’6" person with minimal body fat, and an affinity for contorting your body on chairs. My 6’5" 240lb. frame does not do well on those couches for long. Beautiful to look at though…

k well this is true but i already know this.

doesnt answer my question. i am wondering if anybody has a solution to the foam problem.

for instance, would have a central core of soft foam and a thin outer layer of hard foam work…

Only one way to really find out.

(cue Zippy)

Try it. Build it.

It sounds like it could work as long as you keep in mind the other ergo issues.

Your description is a little too vague to give any kind of specific answer. Got any sketches you can show us?

As for the sharp edges and comfort, that in itself is a non-issue IF the seat geometry and dimensioning ‘works’ and the user does not end up resting on the sharp corners. If the piece is out of scale or the geometry is poor it won’t work no matter how soft and large-radiused the foam is.

RE: foam issue, yes, you can layer different densities of foam to get certain characteristics not found in solid blocks of single-density foam. I usually see it used opposite than what you are asking about, with softer foam around a higher density core. There are some other types of foam on the market that will give sharper edge detail without needing to be “hard as a rock”. Check with foam suppliers, they know their product better than anyone and will be able to shed more light on foam construction. You can achieve “sharp edges” with soft foam by the way the fabric cover is sewn or assembled (although this isn’t a durable long-term).

welllllllllllll i can solve your problem, I do consulting work so pm me if your up to paying for a solution.,no such thing as a free lunch ya know.

From what I’ve studied about furniture design, Konstantin Grcic is among the best who can marry very beautiful design with something that’s actually comfortable to sit in. Check out his website:

build it…

I applaud your recognition that your furniture must be functional, and therefore comfortable ( ergonomically sound).

But don’t be married to your design before you’ve prototyped it. Crisp lines are getting a bit passe anyway.

I’ve sat on a metal seat (40/4 stacker) that was more comfortable than some upholstered pieces. Form is a strong determinant for comfort and an extremely efficient methodology for material usage.

But I also understand a commitment to a design. It sometimes pushes us to find solutions that might have gone undiscovered.

Sorry for the theoretical response, I know you were searching for durometers, etc…