Design professionals can be portrayed as flouncy artists who create visually pleasing products that occasionally serve a purpose. That stigma is strengthened by everyone from furniture designers who make horribly uncomfortable chairs up to architects who make completely non-functional buildings. In contrast, many designers are fantastic problem solvers. It is not uncommon for a designer to dabble in all realms of design, where the same principals apply regardless scale. Investigating a problem and working through the solution forces designers to work within parameters that often make them more creative.
Florabella Lounge Chair. Designed by Martin Linder for Herman Miller.
The Florabella Lounge Chair is a comfortable looking chair designed for healthcare facilities. At first glance it is a standard looking lounge chair with elbow pads that are reminiscent of the patches on the elbows of a suit. An interview with the designer, Martin Linder, by Keasha Palmer of the Herman Miller blog reveals the chair to be much more than a simple waiting room chair.
Martin Linder researched waiting room behavior by watching and talking with people sitting in hospital waiting rooms. His investigation set forth three priorities for the design of the Florabella Lounge Chair: limiting dirt and pathogen build up, maximizing durability in key locations, and creating a comforting chair for people in emotional crisis. The Florabella Lounge Chair deals with these issues in a few ways. First, the seat of the chair floats away from the arms and backrest to allow dirt to fall to the floor and be easily swept away. Second, they created elbow pads on the end of the arm rest where people tend to pick and pull at the fabric. The urethane pad is highly durable and easily cleanable as well as soft to the touch to encourage soothing rubbing. The shape of the chair offers physical comfort by “hugging” the user and allowing them to either sit upright or slouch deep into the chair. The Florabella Lounge Collection is manufactured by Brandrud (a Herman Miller Company) and has won the Nightingale Award for healthcare design.