Starting to work on the chair, we tried to talk to (nearly) everyone who would have a stake in our project: kids, teachers, school janitors, procurement managers for school furniture, even insurance companies. We wanted to learn as much as we could about the characteristics of school chairs, about their production industry, and about the school furniture market.

School furniture is a very national affair. Each country not only has its own norms and regulations but also its own school furniture industry. In Germany, 3-4 players dominate a highly consolidated market. Without outside competition, these companies don’t seem to have much pressure to innovate or implement the insights gathered in recent studies on school as a workplace.

Recently, and as part of a general attempt to better promote public health in schools, questions of ergonomic seating and working have received much attention. The German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has recently published a thorough study called “Work Place School.” The study found that dynamic sitting was the most important condition for physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. This, in turn, is the premise for healthy learning. While traditional furniture encourages children to sit straight and still, dynamic sitting allows kids to frequently change posture, even to get up during class.

PRO is implementing these findings through three design elements. First, the round seat is similar to that of a stool so that it does not prescribe a forward sitting position. Second, the slim backrest gives the torso room to move sideways. The third and most decisive design element is the backrest’s distinctive S-shape. Its lower curve allows for freedom of movement and takes strain away from the lower back and pelvis. The three-dimensional shape provides for enough structural stability that the plastic shell can be produced without fiberglass reinforcement. This, incidentally, increases recycling options.

Click here to watch a film by Marc Comes.

Project assistant: Olivia Herms (KGID)
Producer: Flötotto