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The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design Paperback – January 23, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Cranz is no sedentary historian. The Chair is a call to action. -- Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times
Galen Cranz has written a provocative book. Pull up a comfortable chair--if you can find one--and read it. -- Witold Rybczynski
About the Author
Galen Cranz is professor of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley.
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It may not be a perfect book, but there are many good points, so I highly recommend it. It certainly gets a person thinking about something they have probably never thought about before.
Through the [...] I am studying Chairs for the next two years. I'm doing this because I wanted to study something simple, tangible, and ubiquitous. At the beginning of my study, this description seemed to fit chairs. Currently I'm a couple of months into my study and very much have an amateur's perspective on the content and style of Cranz's work.
I really enjoyed reading the book. I particularly enjoyed the content surrounding the history of chairs. I found myself taking notes but I soon stopped because I was essentially copying what Cranz wrote, word for word. There is a lot of material referenced in there (extensive footnotes and bibliography) that I will look back on for my continued studies.
I read the 2nd half of the book considerably more quickly than I read the first part. I think this was A. because I was frustrated by how long it was taking me to take notes AND read the book, but B. I sensed that I would be reading considerably more about ergonomics and the implications of our chair use down the line, so I didn't want to spend too much time memorizing all of the little details of Cranz's opinion. I also got the sense that a lot of the 2nd half was laced with her opinion. That's fine as long as you accept it for what it is. Her opinion may very well be accurate, but I'll have to read a bunch more to verify.
In short, I thought this book was a nice, comprehensive, thought-provoking primer to learning more about chairs. It has certainly shaped the beginning of my studies in that I'm now interested both in "chairs as objects of design" and "chairs as potentially dangerous constructs". Anyone is welcome to follow me as I continue my study at [...]
One random thing: I enjoyed some of the random quotes at the beginnings of different chapters.
The author writes that children do not naturally sit in chairs. Young children much prefer sitting on the floor, crawl, kneel, stand, or any posture other than sitting in chairs. They have to be forced to sit in chairs before they become accustomed to it. And sitting in chairs is bad for their development and health.
Upon further reflection, I am coming to regard sitting in chairs in the workplace as a practice of oppression. Instead of acknowledging that human beings need a variety of postures in order to remain healthy and productive, we have forced this notion that only a certain number of postures are "professional." Women, especially, are limited in the kinds of postures that are considered acceptable. Forcing employees into one constricted posture all day is to regard them as machines instead of human beings. While those in the executive office are allowed more comfortable chairs with a greater range of motion, room in their office to stretch, or even a couch to lounge in. Being able to move has become a status symbol instead of a basic human right. In ancient times Kings and heads of households sat in chairs as a symbol of authority. Today, working in more comfortable positions is a luxury reserved for the elite. And for those who come from cultures in which chair sitting is not the norm, forget diversity in the workplace, conformity at all costs!
This book asks us to question this norm and challenge conventional wisdom. Office workers, STAND UP to defy the tyranny of the chair!
Most recent customer reviews
Reviewed by Rani Lueder, CPE
This book is about seating and sitting.Read more