Between a desk job and long commute, you may spend 12-14 hours a day sitting down.

Despite the popularity of standing desks, most new technology is still designed to keep us lazy, which is why French designer Benoît Malta is creating products that are a little less convenient.

With his designs, people are forced to get up more often. And if they stay seated, they're forced to sit in an active way.

"I tried to design objects that modify our habits and try to engage the body differently in everyday life," says Malta.

Working with physical therapists and ergonomic experts, Malta designed a two-legged chair that makes users balance gently as they sit, so they're suddenly using muscle groups that would normally be passive in a chair or on a sofa.

"My will is to introduce a 'bearable discomfort' for our well-being," Malta says.

"The aim of the project, beyond the idea of promoting mobility, is to raise awareness of people about their bodies."

The products, Malta says, take only a little adjustment to get used to.

"All the people who tested these products they say they do not have an unpleasant sensation, they are just a little different."

Unlike home fitness equipment, which many people buy and then rarely use, Malta's designs are intended to make exercise automatic.

"If we design our home space differently, I think it's going to be natural to use these products."

The designs, created for Malta's master's degree at the École Boulle in Paris, are only prototypes at the moment, but he hopes to produce them.

He also hopes to help challenge the way designers typically think about building convenience into products.

"The designer tries to offer to the consumer as much well-being and pleasure as possible...and tends to erase every efforts or physical activities, and thus becomes the creator of inactive environments and stationary postures," he says.

"I think that discomfort at home can be considered in order to create dynamic spaces, and to modify our habits."

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2014-08-26

Co.Exist

This Deliberately Inconvenient Furniture Forces You To Be Active And Not Just Lie On The Couch

With shelves that are a little out of reach and a chair that requires balancing, the idea is introduce a "bearable discomfort" to make life a little less smooth—and a little more healthy.

If you have a desk job, a long commute, and like to spend your spare time online or watching TV, you may spend 12 or 14 hours a day sitting down. Despite the popularity of standing desks, most new technology is still designed to keep us lazy: Smartphone apps, remotes, and wired devices make it easy to do anything and everything without ever leaving the couch.

French designer Benoît Malta, by contrast, is creating products that are purposely a little less convenient, so people are forced to get up more often. And even if they stay seated, they're forced to sit in an active way.

"Domestic activities are less and less physical," says Malta. "I decided to work on different typical daily situations like turning on a light or reading email on a computer, and I tried to design objects that modify our habits and try to engage the body differently in everyday life."

Working with physical therapists and ergonomic experts, Malta designed a two-legged chair that makes users balance gently as they sit, so they're suddenly using muscle groups that would normally be passive in a chair or on a sofa.

"My will is to introduce a 'bearable discomfort' for our well-being," Malta says. "The aim of the project, beyond the idea of promoting mobility, is to raise awareness of people about their bodies."

In another design, a lamp gradually turns itself off, so you have to frequently get up and reset it. A series of shelves are designed to be placed just high enough on a wall that you have to reach and stretch to get your keys or glasses.

The products, Malta says, take only a little adjustment to get used to. "All the people who tested these products they say they do not have an unpleasant sensation, they are just a little different. At the beginning the chair looks like it's dangerous and unstable but when they try it they don't feel in danger."

Unlike home fitness equipment, which many people buy and then rarely use, Malta's designs are intended to make exercise automatic. "Fitness practices are totally disconnected from our daily lives because they are not related to our uses and habits," Malta says. "Therefore they are unsuitable with our everyday lives . . . But if we design our home space differently, I think it's going to be natural to use these products."

The designs, created for Malta's master's degree at the École Boulle in Paris, are only prototypes at the moment, but he hopes to produce them. He also hopes to help challenge the way designers typically think about building convenience into products.

"The designer tries to offer to the consumer as much well-being and pleasure as possible . . . and tends to erase every effort or physical activities, and thus becomes the creator of inactive environments and stationary postures," he says. "I think that discomfort at home can be considered in order to create dynamic spaces, and to modify our habits."

[Photos: via Benoît Malta]

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4 Comments

  • hollyrawsonpmp

    I've found that by eliminating the television, I eliminate the couch potato syndrome. We have treadmill desks at my workplace, so that's a great way to get in 2+ miles/day during a conference call... Yard work, taking walks, driving less, all good exercises.

  • Avrum Fine

    One does not need any special devices at one's work station or home environment. So, don't spend one cent on such useless stuff. The answer is to STAND and enjoy all the positive physiological results for doing so. I stand at my computer workstation all day. My monitor, keyboard, and mouse are independently height-adjustable for my ergonomic comfort. I have no back problems, no neck problems, no carpal tunnel issues, nor eyestrain, as I freely move about while working. Human beings are designed to STAND. That's why our species is called homo erectus.

  • Guy Hart

    These are not necessary 'special devices'. Your standing work station is special by most workers standards. So you are already implementing the ideas Benoit is trying to encourage. Good for you. And for the record, homo erectus have been extinct for over one hundred thousand years. But i understand your point. Homo sapiens, (Latin: "wise man"), have become lazy with all their smart ideas and devices.