Last time I sat on an Eames Lounge, I thought it was comfortable, but it was a long time ago, in a store, so I didnâ€™t get to try it out for any prolonged length of time (donâ€™t have enough money for one). After an hour of sitting on it, it could make your legs go to sleep, I wouldnâ€™t know, so I could be wrong in stating that its comfortable. For the time I parked my a$$ on it, it was nice.
Every year at design shows, I see rafts of chairs, slews of stools, great vistas of seating and they nearly always leave me feeling empty. The human body changes very little and apart from designing an office chair with masses of adjustability or orthopeadic chairs, childrens chairs or one offs etc, most chairs have to be generic in that they cater for the mean percentage of the population. So they conform to a set of very well established dimensions (+ - 5cm here or there) especially with seat height. This is particularly true with dining furniture that has to fit under a table, allow people to sit close to one another etc. So if there are so many chairs in the world and the human body is evolving so slowly, you could argue that thereâ€™s no need to design any more. Yet thereâ€™s something in most designers that makes us want to have a go (and funnily enough â€“ chair manufacturers), for me I felt it was a bit of a bench mark â€“ Iâ€™m a designer, so I should have designed a chair or two.
At the moment, thereâ€™s a chair posted on Coreâ€™s home page the Hara chair. An orange fiberglass construction. If itâ€™s not comfortable, then in a few years time when the fashion has moved on what will the buyer be left with, a rather expensive decoration (which you canâ€™t recycle). I guess you could use it to hold piles of magazines or dirty washing or donate it to a museum! For me, good chairs, are almost like silent family members, for years they support you at meals, witnesses moments of joy and pain, comfort you when you have a cold, hold you whilst you watch TV and as they bear witness, they build up a patina of use. Using that as a starting point for a design, rather than setting out to design a cool looking chair thatâ€™s ruined as soon as it gets scratched by a stud on a pair of jeans (back to the Hara chair) is for me a better starting point.
Greatness can only be measured after the fact, in how much the innovation influenced other designers or the market. To focus any attention in one direction is to take it away from another, when too much attention for too long is placed in one direction - then there is opportunity for change
Its true that if you only focus on function and ignore aesthetics then there will be a reaction - counter culture. But I always think there should be a slight bias towards function ie comfort, because if you go too much towards aesthetics, then all you’re left with is uncomfortable sculpture. For me greatness (of chairs) isnâ€™t measured by how much a chair design influenced other designers or the market. If the first thing I want to do is slump into it as soon as I get home after work, thatâ€™s a great chair.