Considering Human Anthropometrics in Office Furniture Design

Ergonomics and anthropometry are two sides of the same coin. Intrinsically integrated, each principle supports the idea of creating comfortable and healthy work environment that promote over all well-being. While most of us are familiar with ergonomics, anthropometrics is a more novel term that many may not be aware of.

Anthropometrics is the study that deals with human body dimensions like body size, shape, strength, and working capacity for design purposes and physical fitness. Ergonomics, on the other hand, is the scientific principle that emphasizes on designing products and systems that are compatible with the needs and limitations of the people.

Ergonomic experts and office furniture manufacturers rely on anthropometric details for designing and producing furniture that precisely meet individual user requirements and improve user experience. All in all, with anthropometry, the application of ergonomics in the manufacture of furniture can be easily achieved.

Why do we require considering anthropometrics while designing furniture?

When you opt for a furniture piece, it’s hardly meant to be used by a single individual. Hence, most furniture must accommodate the variations of a wide range of end users. In fact, this is one of the reasons why furniture with intuitive designs like ergonomic chair and height adjustable tables are high in demand.

Besides age and gender, disparities in physical attributes also arise due diverse regional population groups. For instance, people living in Netherlands tend to be taller than those living in Asian countries. Now these differences come in the way of designing standard size furniture that fits the majority.

The gap created due to the unavoidable factors can be bridged with the help of anthropometric data. Based on the anthropometric details of a region, it’s convenient to determine the upper and lower limits for the range of adjustments. Be it an ergonomic chair or office table, anthropometry can be instrumental in determining suitable seat height, seat depth, seat width, backrest height (upper), armrest and desk height for varied classes of people

How is the measurement done? 

Different tools and methods are employed to record the anthropometric details. While a beam caliper, spreading caliper and the sliding caliper are the traditional instruments used for recording the body measurements, photometry, stereo photography, videography, motion capture and 3D scanning are the modern methods paving way for more accurate readings.

Heights from the floor, assorted circumferences, body breadths, and depths form the key elements of anthropometric data. Respective subjects are palpated in order to locate specific landmarks on their body. Measurements between landmarks are taken in various positions, usually standing and sitting, but sometimes prone or supine may also be required.

Percentiles in anthropometric measurements

Anthropometric dimensions for each population are ranked by size and are described as percentiles. It is common practice to design for the 5th percentile (5th %) female to the 95th percentile (95th%) male. The 5th% female value for a particular dimension (e.g. sitting height) usually represents the smallest measurement for design in a population. Conversely, a 95th% male value may represent the largest dimension for which one is designing. The 5th% to 95th% range accommodates approximately 90% of the population. To design for a larger portion of the population, one might use the range from the 1st% female to the 99th% male.

How to choose furniture that is right for India?

Most of the furniture brands offer range that are based on international measurements and hence are not fit for Indian body type. However, the long wait for right furniture is now over.

At HNI, we focus on ergonomic needs that are derived from Indian anthropometric data.  If looking for top-grade modular office furniture that could complement Indian standard types, then HNI is the perfect destination to head for. Offering a new standard in seating comfort, we have come up with an ideal solution that’s elegant, cost effective and just right for you!