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Desks and chairs: Ergonomic essentials in workplace design

‘Ergonomics’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the architecture and design industry. But what does ergonomics actually mean in design? And how do designers achieve it?

Ergonomic blue chair and desk essentials


BY Ben Lawrence

September 17th, 2017


Ergonomics is the study of how humans interact with the built environment. It is a concept that is particularly prevalent in workplace design, especially as people spend ever-increasing amounts of time at work.

There are a handful of ergonomic essentials that designers should keep in mind when considering workplace projects. Ergonomic chair design and ergonomic desk design are two of the most significant considerations.

Ergonomic white chair and desk essentials

Ergonomic chair design

For optimal chair ergonomics, the chair should be set so that your arms are as close to horizontal with the desk as possible, with knees bent at a comfortable angle of around 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor. If your feet don’t touch the floor or doing so causes strain, then an adjustable footrest may be needed. The backrest should be adjusted so that when sitting upright, it supports the lower back.

Ergonomic desk design

For ergonomic desk design, the desk should be arranged so that the requirements for ergonomic chair design can be met – namely, your arms should be bent at around 90 degrees, forearms parallel to the floor. The same applies if using a standing desk: arms should be bent at a comfortable angle, with forearms parallel.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ergonomics. Each individual will have unique needs for the design of their chair and desk to achieve optimal ergonomics for them.

Ergonomic grey chair and desk essentials


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