The experimental Dutch studio RAAAF presents an artful concept for thinking on your feet.
If you feel we’ve become too attached to smart phones, then consider our utter dependence on an older technology: seating. It has consumed the modern office, and the resulting inactivity has been linked to ailments from neck strain to premature death.
The End of Sitting, by experimental studio (Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances) and visual artist Barbara Visser, takes a stand against these sedentary habits. Installed at Amsterdam gallery Looiersgracht 60 last December, the prototype workplace made sitting impossible. The project’s creators filled this former industrial space with plywood fabrications coated in a cementitious plaster, in crystalline shapes that matched standing heights for various body types. They also detailed individual facets to accommodate different positions, such as leaning and Spiderman-like crouching – just no sitting. The narrow aisles even prohibited commandeering the floor for a quick laze.
“We didn’t want to make a singular furniture element, because we believe that real change in the workplace should be an intervention on the scale of the whole environment,” RAAAF co-leader Arna Mackic says of this holistic, avant-garde approach to active design. The architect also recognizes that the art installation is not a realistic solution, rather a “challenge to starting thinking in a different way about our work environment.”
What may turn thinking into doing? University of Groningen psychologist Rob Withagen found that people who occupied the End of Sitting responded favourably to working on their feet. He will release their productivity scores shortly.