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The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Perhaps no other object of our daily environment has had the enduring cultural significance of the ever-present chair, unconsciously yet forcefully shaping the physical and social dimensions of our lives. With over ninety illustrations, this book traces the history of the chair as we know it from its crudest beginnings up through the modern office variety. Drawing on anecd ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 17th 2000 by W. W. Norton Company (first published August 1998)
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3.94  · 
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 ·  100 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014-reads
Mm, okay. Sounds odd to claim it with regard to a book about chairs, but I thought this book - originally published in 2000 - was dated. E.g., Cranz devotes whole chapters to ergonomics and why sitting is bad for one's health, but she's hesitant to make the outright suggestion of using a stand-up desk. It's also kind of crackpot academics: not necessarily the study of ergonomics and interior design, but some of her conclusions and dubious "theories" made me pause. Something or someone led me to ...more
Aug 12, 2007 rated it liked it
More classroom-oriented reading, to be used to get students to pay attention to what their bodies are actually doing, and to reflect critically on the relationship between embodiment, bodily practice, and the built environment. Long on description and lots of pictures make this not too heavy, fun while while still substantive; looks at mind-body interaction, ergonomics, social history.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I found this to be a very interesting non-fiction book; not quite what I was expecting, but now I know enough about chairs to be conscious of them when I sit down.

The author is a professor of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, and she is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, a kinesthetic educational system. In this book she studies the history of the chair (which, by and large, is a Western concept), and very exhaustively explains why the typical chair is not go
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
An important read for anyone interested in human-centered design, anatomical congruency, and general postural health
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Parts of this book were more interesting than others. It explains why there doesn't seem to be such a thing as a comfortable chair. Confirmed my prejudices; against soft squishy chairs, and for sitting the wrong way on everything. Leaves much to consider in reworking my home office over the next few years.

One gripe; I wish people would stop using the fit and healthy young adults of another culture to "prove" that said culture's habits are healthier than those of the West. Okay, in cultures that
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, vpl, reference
Can't say enough about this book, other than we sit in chairs most of our lives and it is because of this fact, we never question it's significance. She briefly covers the history (thank god this part is short), then she goes into our anatomy and kinematics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who spends a lot of time on their ass...

... that means you. You'll never think of chairs in the same way, and hopefully it'll make you rethink the way you use chairs in your daily life.
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It becomes very difficult not to see chairs as extremely problematic after reading this book. I know that probably doesn't make sense, but one must read the book to really understand how the technology and ubiquitousness of the chair have profoundly--and negatively--affected our bodies. It's a fascinating read, but one that leaves me frustrated, since it's not like I can easily go and remove chairs from my life...
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Simply amazing work. I wanted to go home and immediately throw away all the chairs in my apartment. Cranz not only discusses the history of sitting and the chair and its relation to culture but is clearly a strong advocate for contemporary body conscious design. And as you'll find out, that's much more than ergonomics.
Hans Guttmann
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm often quoting from this book. Everyone has back pain. Everyone in IT or addicted to Facebook has eye-strain. Chair's are un-natural and usually bad for the back. This book changed my habits for the better. Aside from this practicality, it's an interesting story.
Niloy Mitra
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
The book starts really strong with many interesting comments, observations, and suggestions. The last 1/3rd gets a bit boring with quite some repetitions. Overall I learned quite some useful information from the book.
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Yay! I finally have a copy.
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is an interesting book. I'm only partly into it, but I'd borrow it, not buy it.

A little too much of the author's opinion in it.
Virginia Russell
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksilove
an interesting history of the chair, how and why we use it and how it affects our bodies.
Wei Cho
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
Interesting theory. I've actually applied some of her recommendations in real life.
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