Pratt Institute's Exhibit Shows How Furniture Can Balance Body and Mind

seatLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

As usual at ICFF, the student work is some of the most interesting and forward looking. And in what is also pretty usual at ICFF, the students of the Pratt Institute steal the show. The graduate and undergrad students were challenged to "create designs that balance body and mind in ways that potentially increase health benefits and elevate mood and productivity while providing a greater degree of personal satisfaction from the user experience."

Youju Rhee designed the Side-Rocking Lounge Chair:

The chair functions like a cradle for adults, to calm them down and refresh their minds. The chair is developed from the realization that our bodies feel more comfortable and safe leaning to the side than leaning backwards. The prototype is based on the transitional path of the seat surface from lounge sitting, rolling sideways, and then going to the lying down posture. The engineered runner of the bottom allows a gentle rocking motion to enable the transition of the postures.

Andrea Brown FurnitureLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I was particularly impressed with the work of Andrea Brown, who designed BOOM, which:

...explores how furniture designed for seniors can be both functionally and psychologically supportive. By incorporating smoother edges, warmer colors, and familiar curves, Brown's suite of home furniture offers functional benefits to an aging population while being sensitive to their individual identities and emotional well-being. This is important because most design for the elderly is impersonal and medical-looking, and lacks a sense of empathy for the intended user or the user’s family.

The stepstool is particularly clever and should be in production now; I get very worried when I think of my elderly mom climbing up on a stool, they should all have handrails like that.

stool icffLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Brown's bedside commode retains the usability of the conventional model but conveys compassion through a softened, more thoughtful form. The step stool enables users to maintain independence despite decreased stability, and the dresser has been designed to provide continuous hand support and improved accessibility. Working separately and together, all pieces look approachable and casual enough to be easily integrated into a home environment.

Two things bother me here. One, it is called BOOM, no doubt for all of us baby boomers out here, but the first boomers just turned 65 in the US last year and in Canada this year; most are younger. Two, the inclusion of the commode, which is a real late-stage device used by few, whereas everyone deserves a stool that is safe to use. It tilts the whole concept to the seriously elderly and sick.

fahmida lam sati chairLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

For those of us who love to sit on the floor but want to be more social, Fahmida Lam designs a chair where we can sit cross-legged at eye level with our peers on chairs.

Fahmida Lam's Sati Chair promotes wellness by encouraging users to develop awareness of the mind and body, which facilitates a transition to a healthier lifestyle. Her organic design, which was inspired by cultural traditions that look at the mind and body as one, prompts a variety of users to sit in the cross-legged position to provide the body with benefits such as additional flexibility and improved respiration, digestion, and posture.

Pratt Institute's Exhibit Shows How Furniture Can Balance Body and Mind
In collaboration with Herman Miller, students design furniture that promotes physical and mental well-being.

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