The Chair: politics, sociology and how to sit on one

The Chair: politics, sociology and how to sit on one

In this talk, Rachel Kelly traced the history of the chair through human evolution, the significance and symbolism of the chair, the chair as ‘object of desire’ and what makes a comfortable chair.

Cycladic harpers

Humans are made to move. Nowadays we can be sitting for up to 14 hours per day and most of the time we’re not noticing the chair we’re sitting on because it is literally “part of the furniture”. If we do notice momentarily, it’s probably because we are uncomfortable.  Conversely, chairs are highly political – sitting on a throne is a very different experience from sitting on a stool. Being the Chairperson means you’re leading the business.

Moreover, the quality of our sitting affects what we are doing. Dynamic or constructive sitting enhances productivity, leads to better time-management and management of work-related psychological stress. Research on brain function shows that when we are sitting inactively/passively our creative juices can reduce to a dribble.

The talk included conversations about the epidemic of dis-ease around our increasingly sedentary behaviour, asking what this means for how we work and what we produce? And what can we as individuals, organisations and cultures do about it?

Recording of the talk

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations | 63 Gee Street, London, EC1V 3RS
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