The Roger Issue III

Page 81

ngetty Pretty FOR HEALTH, WELLNESS & PRODUCTIVITY Written by Carol Romanoff Walking through the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, I was struck by the innovative and new designs in ergonomic seating. Ergonomic design has been around for more than 30 years, but due to rapidly changing work environments in popular culture, the importance of well-designed seating has regained the spotlight. We sit for longer periods of time than ever before. The position we spend most of our time in is being questioned and rethought. Just like smoking, sitting, it turns out, is bad for you. What is ergonomic design? To start, the word ergonomics literally means the science of work and a person’s relationship to that work. It comes from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws. According to the International Ergonomics Association, ergonomics is the “scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements

of a system, and the profession that applies theoretical principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well being and the overall system. Ergonomists contribute to the planning, design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, organizations, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities, and limitations of people.” In other words, it is designing products and spaces that work for the people who use them. Brilliant. Having studied Design at Cornell University, I was curious to learn of the new work the University is doing in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis. I recently sat down with Assistant Professor David Feathers and he offered his opinion on why ergonomic design is so important now. “We are in a position of profound change, both cognitive and physical, in the world of work. How it works will change. Along with this, the study of ergonomics is maturing. There is an openness to taking work environments to the next stage. June - July 2012 \ 81

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