Children’s chair design – innovative seats for students encourage muscle activity

The Dutch design studio Lancelot has created a children’s chair design for a range of school chairs. These encourage children to change their seating position frequently in the classroom and thus to move more during class. Rethinking how you sit is critical, but changing your sitting posture means changing your habit. This can be a serious challenge, given the sluggishness that is common with traditional chair seats. The children’s furniture collection called Active Classroom consists of four chairs for primary school. These each have a different structure and thus support the movement and muscle activity of the students while studying in the room.

Physical activity thanks to children’s chair design

student changes his sitting posture on a specially designed wooden seat

The innovative chairs aim to encourage frequent changes of different sitting postures in order to increase muscle activity. In collaboration with the Free University of Amsterdam and the University of Groningen, Boris Lancelot carried out a study entitled ACTIVE CLASS Research on the seating philosophy for primary school children. The designer wanted to get a better understanding of posture while sitting.

activate certain muscle groups in the body when changing from sitting position thanks to children's chair design

This can be translated as a possibility of action and movement and explains how certain children’s chair design can contribute to higher concentrations and healthier students in classrooms. The four stools designed are called Rom, Scout, Rider and Archer. Each stool is designed to adopt at least four different postures. Frequent variations in alternative sitting positions increase the activity of the muscles that otherwise cannot be observed in conventional chairs.

different postures and sitting positions thanks to children's chair design for classrooms

The different shapes encourage the children to change their posture regularly throughout the day. This allows you to move all your muscles and increase your concentration. The aim of this research project is to understand whether the design approach leads to posture changes and diversity. This is done by having designers redesign the seating objects instead of completely removing the traditional chairs. The research result should enable a more acceptable transition from contemporary Western culture to healthier sitting habits, starting in school.

specially designed board for students encourages movement while studying

The team has been researching in 3rd grade elementary school classes since February 2020. The younger generation is both mentally and physically flexible and receptive to changes in habitual behavior. The research project was carried out in collaboration with Simone Caljouw from the Medical Faculty of the University of Groningen and John van der Kamp from the Faculty of Movement Sciences at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Inspiration through research

modern classroom design minimalist with desks and screens

In front of the active classrooms, Boris Lancelot carried out a research called “Techno Motion” in 2018. This inspired him to contribute to new office lifestyles with six wooded stools to stimulate a range of active sitting postures throughout the day. Study after study showed that spending more time on traditional chairs can create serious health risks. The deep habituation to sitting in a chair served as inspiration to develop healthy alternatives for sitting, starting with adolescence.

children's furniture called active classroom in the form of an arched wooden seat

In order to support concentration, autonomous and active postures are used by children’s chair design. This is how muscle groups mobilize themselves to function actively and to supply the body with energy. Each of the seat designs thus focuses on balance. Using the baby chair requires active exertion that eventually tires certain muscles and encourages natural postural changes that activate different muscles.

design of a wooden bench with four legs for children and students to sit on while studying

According to Lancelot, convincing people to adopt new sitting habits is not easy, but it is critical to health and wellbeing. “The transition to a new way of sitting leads to cultural and psychological complaints as well as practical objections,” continued the designer. “Western adults find it difficult and even annoying to deviate from their lifelong sitting behavior.”

Elementary school student high chair design encourages muscle activity during class

So it is obvious that a children’s chair design has a great influence on the design of the daily movement of the body. In addition, it is of social importance for influencing the health and wellbeing of the individual. the Active Classroom Collection was shortlisted for a prize. This is a series of embossed acoustic panels that are based on Japanese design.