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Promoting health and relaxation

22. February 2018

Ergonomic furniture for the home

Promoting health, greater physical relaxation and more comfortable use of devices are no longer strictly concerns of the workplace, but are increasingly spreading into other areas, particularly our own homes. Everyday objects are being designed with comfort and health in mind, with furniture like sofas and chairs, but also beds, mattresses and kitchens, playing a significant role here. “The desire for individuality not only impacts on the design; People want furniture that is tailored to their individual needs,” says Margot Schatzl of the Austrian Furniture Industry. “Sitting in a position that relieves pressure on the back and arms is just as important at home as it is at work, and people are placing ever greater value on this.”

Sitting in one place for a long time is bad for the back and the posture. This is not only the case in the office, but also when enjoying a relaxed film night or a leisurely meal with friends. Ergonomically designed seating allows the body to move freely, which in turn relieves pressure on the spine. This is why chairs at home – even that favourite armchair – are being chosen according to back-friendly criteria. Ergonomic chairs tilt backwards slightly and allow for different sitting positions. Similarly, specially designed sofas fit the needs of the individual’s body, with cushions and backrests positioned at a comfortable height, and armchairs feature adjustable armrests and fold-out footrests. In spite of this, the desire for outstanding design remains. Manufacturers are therefore faced with the challenge of designing furniture that meets specific ergonomic requirements while also being aesthetically pleasing. Austrian manufacturers also show their expertise in this area, creating seats with clean lines that are both ergonomic and modern in their design.

Ergonomics can also offer some relief when working in the kitchen – a good, comfortable posture makes cooking more relaxing. The key thing here is working at the right height. It is recommended that a work surface be positioned about 10 to 15 cm below the elbow. This height is also acceptable for sinks, as here the arms are stretched downwards. The hob should be a little lower in order to account for the height of the pans. In this way, the varying heights of the different areas make it possible to cook in comfort without placing strain on the body. Convenient arrangement of kitchen equipment and kitchen utensils also helps provides extra comfort. Frequently used items should be quick and easy to reach, and there should be plenty of room next to the hob for food preparation. Austrian manufacturers use many innovative ideas to address these requirements. Bespoke kitchens with various levels and fully extendible drawers for storing and retrieving pans easily, through to height-adjustable kitchens, create the ideal ergonomic environment in which to cook.

“Ergonomic furniture is considered to be particularly convenient and is a requirement in all areas,” Schatzl summarises. “Manufacturers are therefore developing ever more sophisticated ways of combining ergonomics and design.”