The human race spends a great deal of time sitting down, whether working in an office, studying in a library, commuting by bus, car, or airplane, or eating in a restaurant. Some seats are far more comfortable than others. --Barry H. Kantowitz and Robert D. Sorkin (Human Factors, 1983)
I quit following straight lines and work with the natural lines that are there. --Warren Schulze (Taggart 2001:B3; see below, Woodworking impressionist)
Consumer product. 1. A piece of furniture with a horizontal seat, quadrupedal legs, an upright back, and horizontal arms, usually designed to be occupied by a single person. 2. Homo sapiens's most diversely styled furniture item.
Usage: Office workers spend the majority of their working days seated in ergonomic swivel chairs. "Office seating has been extensively studied" (Kantowitz and Sorkin 1983:480).
Word origin. The word chair comes from Greek kathedra, "seat," from the 7,000 year old Indo-European root, sed-, "to sit."
Anatomy. "The main weight of the body should be carried by the bony protuberances of the buttocks, more technically known as the ischial tuberosities" (Kantowitz and Sorkin 1983:478).
Animals. The legs of ancient Egyptian and Greek chairs were often carved to mimic the legs and feet of beasts. The legs of ancient Assyrian backless chairs were carved to depict lion claws or the hooves of bulls.
History. ". . . this familiar piece of furniture was not common anywhere in the world until just 300 years ago!" (Manchester 1982:69). Before the widespread use of chairs, people sat on benches, logs, mats, stools, and storage chests. The earliest chairs served as symbols for high-status aristocrats, clan elders, religious leaders, and royalty. Today, the leader of a group seated around a conference table is called "the chair."
Rocking chair. The soothing effect of rocking in a chair is due to the vestibular sense (see BALANCE CUE).
Toilet seating. "The Posture Mold seat designed by architect Alexander Kira is contoured and provides proper support for the thighs. This seat was selected for the design study collection of the Museum of Modern Art showing that good human factors can be esthetically as well as functionally attractive" (Kantowitz and Sorkin 1983:482).
Vehicular seating II. "Anthropometric data also can determine side-by-side seat spacing, that is, how many seats will fit in each row. The crucial dimension is called shoulder breadth. If your shoulders fit, so will your hips" [however, this '. . . does not guarantee you will have much room to move your elbows.'] (Kantowitz and Sorkin 1983:487).
News photo of U.S. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a debate in 2008; their angular distance bespeaks the acknowledged disliking they felt as the campaign dragged on (picture credit: unknown).