Some comfortable seats just rock

Design Line

August 30, 2008|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,rsca@ritastclair.com

I've been looking for a comfortable chair for reading and for watching television. Everything I've seen, however, is too large, too soft or too ugly. Can you steer me toward good-looking seating that meets my functional needs?

That's not easy to do without knowing your specific physical requirements. The best I can suggest is something like the chair shown in the photo, which is certainly good looking.

This handcrafted wooden rocking chair in a light finish is the work of Thos. Moser Cabinet Makers of Auburn, Maine. Maybe it will suit your sense of style, as well as your physical size and comfort level. After all, almost everyone likes a rocker. Such a beautiful adaptation of a classic American design will go nicely in most homes with modern or contemporary designs. And not only are the chair's proportions appealing, but they also make it comfortable to sit in. Interesting studies have been made on the proper design of chairs, which were first used well before the time of Protagoras, who died in 420 B.C. The earliest pieces we know of were quite similar in their proportions to what we take to be the average size of the human body three millennia ago. It's an ancient case of marketing to the mean, I suppose. One general conclusion from many of those studies is that comfort has always been based on the use of a chair and the needs of the user. Notions of comfort do vary across cultures, however, as do standard sitting positions.

Back to your own situation: my practical advice is that you try sitting in more than one position before making a purchase. We all fidget after sitting for a while - which may be one good reason to get a rocker.

A high-back chair also gives more support to one's body, which usually equates with a greater degree of comfort. Even so, additional support may be needed for the lower back. I personally find that a small lumbar pillow manages to make even poorly designed airplane seats more tolerable.

Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with general interior design questions can e-mail her at the above address.

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