Turns out sitting hunched over a desk for eight hours a day isn't all that great for a kid's posture, and the spinal contortions needed to lean over a flat desk certainly do nothing for a student's ability to focus on the day's lessons. However, this rolling chair from Dublin-based industrial design firm Perch aims to keep kids upright, comfortable and engaged through the magic of deforming plastic.
For the last century or so, as we've transitioned from an industrial society where workers stood for most of the day to an information-processing society where people mostly sit instead, the "right angle" position wherein the hips, knees and feet are all cocked at 90-degree angles has been thought the superior way to sit. Nope. While the ergonomics look good on paper, sitting in that manner for more than a few minutes is quite difficult, which is why many kids will lean their chairs forward over their desks -- the downward sloping seat promotes a more natural, straight-back seated posture.
The Ray chair, inspired by and named after the family of undersea animal, is designed to perform the same function without a downward-sloping seat. Instead, as Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan of Fast Co explains:
Ray is based on a patented technology that encourages students to 'self support' by engaging their feet and core muscles constantly throughout the day. These micro-movements originate at the seat, which is made of a thin plastic that deforms very easily. Because it's so flexible, sitters open up their legs to balance, as you would on a horse ('saddle seats' do something similar). The pelvis tilts downward and the spinal position neutralizes. This way, kids avoid the dreaded "right angle" sitting position that has been linked to so many health problems as of late.
When combined with desks that can angle up like drafting tables, which bring the work to the kid rather than the other way round, the Ray could finally make classrooms comfortable. The chair line has already been picked up by school districts in Scandanavia, the UK, and Germany. They're currently priced outside of most public school budgets, but the company is reportedly working on a low-cost version. Besides, you really can't put a price on good posture. [Perch via Fast.Co, AC Mandal]