On The Evils Of Chairs

Jacobin Magazine on a needless technology, introduced more recently than you might think, which drains our physical and psychic well-being:

As chairs became prevalent in schoolrooms, they became a tool for teachers to control the movement of children, whose healthy tendency toward activity made them difficult to teach. Today, children in the developed world learn early that sitting still in a chair is part of what it means to be an adult. The result is that by the time they actually reach adulthood, most have lost the musculature to sit comfortably for prolonged periods without back support.

No designer has ever made a good chair, because it is impossible. Not only are chairs a health hazard, they also have a problematic history that has inextricably tied them to our culture of status-obsessed individualism.  The general trend at most points in Western history has been that upper-class people sit in a certain type of chair – typically the crappiest, most damaging design available at the time – and everyone else tries to imitate them. Worse still, we’ve become dependent on chairs and it’s not clear that we’ll ever be free.

We’re faced, then, with a couple of depressing conclusions. One is that chairs are a sort of inanimate parasite, ensuring their continued production by addicting each successive generation of kids. The other is that they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.

11 Comments on "On The Evils Of Chairs"

  1. wild bill hicock | Nov 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    this is the wildest article i ve read in a while..

  2. Wow, looks like someone can’t afford Eames and is being a whiny baby about it.

  3. Anarchy Pony | Nov 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    Your bodies are not morphologically adapted to sit in chairs, you are supposed to sit on your haunches. Or right on the ground.

  4. NarwhalNecropsy | Nov 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm |


  5. Marklar_Prime | Nov 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    Try checking out an ancient Egyptian bed sometime with its headrest set 5 inches above it’s main surface. Now that is a straight up torture device.

  6. I like recumbent chairs. They’re so much more natural to sit in then chairs with backs. They’re quite common in Japan. I saw many of them in the department stores there. The kids use them at their desks when they’re cramming for their exams.

  7. DeepCough | Nov 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

    If I can’t lean back in it, then it goes into the fire.

  8. I like this article. As a soft tissue therapist I see the results of long term sitting not to mention the seemingly benign actions of mousing and typing. I’ve formed a similar opinion as this author that chairs are not the best of things for the body. Recumbent chairs are better but any long term sitting in any one position simultaneously lengthens some muscles and shortens others. Multiply that by years of this practice and you get chronic body pain. The body was meant to move and unfortunately we all spend too much time sitting. Fully reclined positions are best.

  9. The real question is how are chairs going to end the world this December, and how are the Illuminati involved ?

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