Michael Walch

Digital Tea House Model 2 – Sitting

Posted in Digital Tea House Project by michaelwalch on 18 July, 2010

I don’t take sitting for granted.  Although I regularly use chairs for work, I haven’t owned one in five years or more.  In my San Francisco apartment, I had a fantastic bay window in front of which I laid some window-seat cushions, and I ate and worked at a coffee table.  It was great.  I love sitting on Swiss exercise balls.  Just not chairs, please.

As the next step in my design proposal for the Digital Tea House, I’m very interested in challenging conventional posture, or to put it another way, finding a medium between the chair-sitting West and the floor-sitting Japanese culture.  I’ve found online a succinct evolution of kneeling chairs page which I encourage everyone to check out, and which I’m intending to incorporate into the next phase of my design work.  Here are some initial sketches:

With regard to posture, all these designs hope to divide the weight of the body between the sit-bones in your butt with the shins, and put your spine in an obtuse angle (usually targeted at 135 degrees) from your upper legs.  I’d like to propose this as a re-interpretation of a bow or other gesture of respect – as a variation of kneeling, performed continuously during the tea ceremony.  An important variable which I intend to explore through a few iterations in Rhino is the relationship of the leg space to the floor height.  Using my proposal of slats from last week, the floor could potentially be quite porous and the legs could dangle through, giving the body a feeling of floating and preserving the tea ceremony on the floor surface.  Alternatively, the height of the leg space could be placed above the floor, which would introduce some form of table-like element.  This could be achieved either through a built-in undulation of the floor, where everyone essentially kneels into the table, or through something as simple as the Tibetan ‘Seiza bench’ where very small pieces of furniture are provided.

More to come…

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