Extensions of Self
Furniture is the most literal and direct extension of ourselves into space. Except for the air itself and the clothing we wear, it is what we make the most physical contact with each and every day. Indeed, we are often unconscious of the degree to which we rely on furniture in performing our daily activities. Apart from its stylistic elements (still one of the most familiar aspects of furniture design), it supports us physiologically and psychologically. As Bernard Rudofsky wrote, a chair is “more than prosthesis, an extension of the human body; it provides a bolster for the mind.22
According to recent archaeological evidence, the first chairs were created in the late Neolithic period, Home floor designs 2017 which lasted from 10,000 to 4000 bce. In her popular blog, The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design, Galen Cranz argues that the upright position imposed by the first seat was a forced, unnatural position for the human body. She suggests that the chair was invented as a means of projecting social power. Her conclusion is not too different from the commonly held design assumption that chairs are stylistic creations first and functional objects second.23
However, there is an opposite, and convincing, anthropological view that the human body can be found in a fairly limited array of postures: standing, lying down, and in an intermediate position.24 Though these can subsequently be broken into smaller (often minute) postural variations, it is more important to note that although it is possible to lie down and stand without the aid of furniture, it is impossible to retain an intermediate position for an extended period of time without support. So the chair fulfills a physiological need: it is a prop for human activity.
Interior, ECA Evolution House, Edinburgh College of Art,Scotland, Shashi Caan Collective, 2007. This project photo shows an interstitial space which functions as connector and mediator between two distinct functions and itself (functioning as a breakout and waiting space) – a complete and necessary entity. The intent was to convey and promote ECA’s philosophy of open communication, accessibility, collaborative learning, clarity of thinking, and detail as the communicator of the whole. Visually, the space can be changed and transformed anew by using color and light and minimizing or optimizing transparency in all directions.
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