The ubiquity of mobile devices in our lives is providing a challenge, or inspiration, for furniture designers.
The ubiquity of mobile devices in our lives is providing a challenge, or inspiration, for furniture designers. Mobile-related ergonomic issues, for instance, present an opportunity—there’s the slouchy “iPosture” and “text neck,” associated with leaning over a phone to read. Office-furniture maker Steelcase studied the ways we juggle mobile and desktop devices at work today and spotted nine distinct sitting postures, from “the smart lean” to “the strunch” (a stretched-out hunch). The company bills its new Gesture chair as “the first chair designed to support our interactions with today’s technologies.”
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For the home, furniture makers are creating adjustable seating that can support these varied postures, offer resting spots for tech gadgets and provide built-in power sources, as The Wall Street Journal reported last year. For instance, add-ons that accompany Philippe Starck’s MyWorld sofa for Cassina include a container with built-in USB charger, electrical plug and Duracell Powermat. Children’s brands are similarly seeking to accommodate mobile-immersed kids, a tricky proposition. Fisher-Price’s Apptivity Seat for babies, which includes an iPad holder, was met with much criticism, which the company acknowledges on the Apptivity product page (noting in part that “Many of us at Fisher-Price are also parents learning to navigate technology in our children’s lives, and we care very deeply about making this new integration into playtime developmentally appropriate”).
Meanwhile, restaurants and cafes are integrating wireless charging capabilities into their tables, including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. As our dependence on mobile devices deepens and our behaviors change, watch for furniture design to evolve in both subtle and significant ways.