While standing around for hours at a music festival, a couple of Danish entrepreneurs started thinking about chairs. The standard folding chair is awkward to carry, awkward to unfold, and awkward to use in a standing crowd. At large festivals, the chairs also tend to end up in the trash when the music is over.
Three years later, the pair have come up with an alternative: A portable chair called SitPack that fits in a pocket and acts a little like a tripod for your butt.
"We were thinking about what we would normally carry around, and that was some kind of beverage—water, beer, soda," explains Nikolaj Bak, co-founder of Mono + Mono Design, the startup that created the chair. "We started thinking about how we could make a chair in that same shape."
Folded up, the chair is a couple of inches taller than a standard beer can, and about the same diameter. It flips open to create a seat, and a pole pulls out to create a base. Though made of plastic, it's strong enough to hold someone weighing up to 286 pounds.
While the designers are the first to acknowledge that most of us already spend too much time sitting in general, they argue that the SitPack is a healthy way to sit for those who need a little extra support. The chair is designed to keep your spine and pelvis in the right position, and your legs stay active as you balance.
Though both the co-founders are young, they have knee and back injuries from sports. "We have to—or want to—sit down after standing for too long," Bak says. "So we've been in talks with a lot of professionals like physical therapists, making sure that we're really doing something that eases the pain from your back and knees."
Since the design is so compact, the startup hopes that people will begin to use it in everyday life. It might even encourage more people to take public transit, since it's a guaranteed seat.
"You can just pop it out when you're waiting for the bus or the train," says Bak. At least in Denmark, public transportation tends to be overcrowded, so there are never enough seats. So you can rest a bit while waiting for the bus or metro or train, but you can also actually flip it out and lean back when you're inside. It has a rubber foot, so it doesn't slip around, and it's safe to use even in a moving bus."
Unlike a typical folding chair, it can also go in the recycling bin. "Waste is a huge problem at festivals," Bak explains. "Portable chairs tend to be left behind, and because they can be made from 8 or 9 materials, recycling is too expensive, and they're not recycled."
The SitPack is made from a single material. "Basically you can just put it into a grinder and then re-mold it and make a new one," Bak says.
It's also designed to last. "It's made of polycarbonate, the same material as Lego bricks and riot shields," he says. "So in a sense it's bulletproof. It's absolutely durable, and can be unfolded and folded thousands of times."
The SitPack is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.