Category Archives: For ARCHITECTS

For designers, manufacturers, office managers.
A resource examining bio-medical factors in office design to reduce physiologic stressors and improve productivity.

The FUTURE is going the 4M way

From a wierd concept in 1998 to become disruptive in 2017?

The ‘Deskless Chair’ derived from the ergonomic importance of a reclined work position, is morphing into the ‘Workstation’. This should reduce the incidence of LBP and other health issues.

In 1903 Ford’s ‘Horseless Carriage’ had morphed into the Model T, capable of 20 horsepower In 1908.  This, at least, solved the “great horse manure crisis of 1894” when it was suggested that London’s streets would be clogged in 9 feet of horse manure in 50 years. It’s descendants are, in turn, being disrupted by ‘the driverless car’.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 07.28.24Disruptive technologies have to prove themselves first. They do so by working on the same infrastructure as the incumbent leaders. Cars had to run on the same streets as horses. Dial-up internet connections in the late 1990s used the copper in the phone networks.  (Dan Denning
Publisher, Southbank Investment Research ).   So, work-stations have to use existing office spaces before becoming universal.

We are seeing a number of ‘work-station’ type models which include a reclined work mode and so are superior to the present (2016) upright conventional  models.  The models shown here are a step in the right direction but are not 2T compliant and appear to ignore the science and are based on engineering.    They do not invite a great uptake, in spite of extensive PR.

the Altmark

AltmarkNow, in 2015, a chair is proposed,  that has at least an upright and reclined work position.  Did they see my web-page for the 2T concept which has been in the public domain since 1998, later upgrade to the 3M (2T = 3M) & 4M the optimised default  against which the ergonomics of any chair can be assessed?  Or did they arrive at this independently?    It was probably the latter and the chance of a simpler, more ergonomically optimised and more elegant model was missed       I have not seen this model but however deficient in biomechanics (ergonomic) optimisation, with reservations, it is  potentially the best work-chair in the market. (

For a fuller account see in → WORK-CHAIRS, a new breed with a reclined mode.


Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 12.34.17A good idea in that it achieves the 2 modes that I have been advocating since 1998, but what a terrible design!   Electrically operated.  With all possible bells and whistles It represents an almost opposite view to the 2T principle and it’s 4M workstation derivative.   This  with an emphasis on anatomy and spinal biomechanics leads to lack of adjustments and simplicity.  Obviously a huge misplaced engineering enterprise without awareness of what was possible and desirable.  Another example of what emerges when the the optimised default solution of the 2T concept is ignored.           Price: $5995

The CHOTTOScreen Shot 2017-05-20 at 11.14.27

This highly innovative chair was introduced to me by it’s designer,Thomas Stroman, the Founder of Stroman Design.   He wrote to me “I am an architect by training, but having experienced back surgery, my focus has been on ergonomic seating design for human-computer interaction.

At first glance I might be excused for thinking that it looked as if it were self mobile with caterpillar tracks.  Perhaps an exciting concept for the future. What fun to go charging around the workspace and bumping one’s colleagues!

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 11.11.16The importance of a reclined work position has been recognised.  It could be modified to become virtually 2t (4M) ergonomic compliant.  A foot rest has been incorporated,



IfM 2013Now have a look at the 2013 Cambridge student project on the 2T CONCEPT.    The Cambridge trials showed the elegance, simplicity, cost effectiveness  and greatly enhanced ergonomics of th 2T concept showing a 4M version.

It excited much comment along the lines “Gee!  That’s cool.  I want it”.  The lack of ‘familiarity bias’ is typical with the millennial generation.  Go consider.

(Yes!   That’s John Gorman glowering in the background.  He was an engineering graduate and took the opportunity to visit his ‘Alma mater’).

And a sketch for a 2T model done for me by Aaron Chetwynd in about 2000, which deliberately resembles existing chairs so as to avoid familiarity bias.

For further reading, see ☛

The global future?

The future may be much better, or worse,  than most people think. It’s going to “arrive” sooner than they imagine.

Ray Kurzweil – explains  “Now back to the future: it’s widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected the future to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past. Although exponential trends did exist a thousand years ago, they were at that very early stage where an exponential trend is so flat that it looks like no trend at all. So their lack of expectations was largely fulfilled. … An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth.”

Michael Bess, professor of history at Vanderbilt University in the United States, opines  “There will be some fantastic benefits from these technologies, and some really potentially cataclysmic dangers. The idea is to go slow, because we need to be careful. We need to give ourselves time to adapt to the power that these changes are going to exert on our life as individuals and in society as a whole. .. Within the wealthy countries, it could exacerbate the rift between the rich and the poor. On a global scale, it’s going to be even worse. I become worried that over time, if there are several generations of enhancements that have gone forward and that rift keeps widening, you will see a fragmentation of the species based on whether they have been able to get access to these things or not.”

The Third Industrial Revolution.

David Brown, entrepreneur, angel investor and the creator of the blockbuster drug Viagra, suggests that  we are living through what he calls the Third Industrial Revolution. His theory is that each revolution is driven by a combination of three things:

  1. a new energy source, 1, coal, 2.oil, 3. ?solar..
  2. a new means of communication. 1. steam-powered printing press 2.the telegraph 3. ?the internet.
  3. and a new source of finance. 1. the stock exchange. 2. the limited company 3. ? peer-to-peer lending and other internet-driven forms of finance.

 … What’s the definition of a bank? It lends money to a broad customer base. These internet companies have massive customer bases – a billion customers with no infrastructure costs – and they’ve got money. Apple’s got $200 billion in cash. Banks are bust! It just takes one step now: for Apple and Google to start lending, and they are then replacing the current banking system.

Genetic editing

We’re talking about memory in the way early computer developers (really early – think 1940s) had to find ways of turning information into a signal that could be read, understood and stored by a machine. In a similar vein, researchers have found a way of getting the DNA in your cells to record certain information that can then be read back later.

Medically, that information is basic: we can record “events”, like whether any inflammation occurred, as well as for how long it lasted and how severe it was. But the ultimate goal of the research is to get our DNA to store more complex information about the progression of an illness or the performance of a drug.

As Timothy Lu, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and of biological engineering, put it: “To enable a deeper understanding of biology, we engineered human cells that are able to report on their own history based on genetically encoded recorders.” 

This breakthrough, like so many others, would not have been possible without CRISPR.

First off, what exactly is CRISPR?   It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It’s sometimes referred to as CRISPR/Cas9. But what we call it isn’t half as interesting as the fact that it enables us to do something no civilisation before us has ever had the ability to do – to edit the genetic makeup of living things and remake ourselves the way we want to be.   It will go down in history as the most significant breakthrough of the century.

In the middle of the last (20th) century, Francis Crick and James Watson , at Cambridge, discovered the structure of DNA. Let’s call that the birth of modern genetic research. It was akin to us finding the instruction manual for the human body.   A half a century later in 2000 and the Human Genome Project decoded a genome for the very first time. That gave us the ability to read the instruction manual (or parts of it).

CRISPR enables us is to rewrite the book altogether – to cross out parts we don’t want, swap whole pages with those of another book, to create an entirely new book if we like. That’s a major shift. It changes our involvement from passive study and understanding of the subject, to active involvement, re-engineering things the way we want them to be.  It is an emerging technology. But its uses are multiplying seemingly by the day.  The doctor behind the experiment called it: “A landmark in the use of new gene engineering technology and the effects on this child have been staggering. “If replicated, it could represent a huge step forward in treating leukaemia and other cancers.”

“CRISPR is a geneticist’s dream come true,” said oncology expert and Novartis researcher Rob McDonald in a 2016 interview. “CRISPR enables us to do experiments that one could only dream of before.” In short, it enables scientists to look into thousands of genes related to cancer. The goal is to find a “kill switch” – the gene or genes that are vital to the survival of the cancer. Find this and you can engineer drugs that hit this target with precision.”  This has helped lead to a major project lead by the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, known as the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopaedia. The goal is to turn genomic information of cancer data and tumour biology into more therapeutically useful information.

That tackles a disease that’s already developed in a patient. But what if we could remake our genetic profiles so that we were entirely immune to certain diseases?   In an attempt to create immunity against HIV by “cutting” the offending genetic material away UMass Medical School researchers are using CRISPR/Cas9.  “On the simplest level, we’re employing a very precise pair of scissors to go in and clip out all, or part of, the HIV genome and reattach the severed ends of the human genome,” said principal co-investigator Scot Wolfe, PhD, associate professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology. “If we could do that, the hope is that this would be a step on the road to getting a functional cure for HIV.”

The number of clinical uses of CRISPR – and gene editing more widely – is growing all the time. As well as cancer and HIV, researchers around the world have had preliminary success using CRISPR against cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anaemia.

There are more controversial uses, such as creating mosquitos that are genetically engineered to wipe out the rest of their species (by breeding with them only to have offspring that are incapable of breeding) in an effort to combat malaria and the Zika virus.

Superhumans and the Jetsons fallacy

The author Michael Bess put it that when we imagine the future, we envisage a world in which technology is many times more advanced, but humans are essentially the same as they are today. He calls it the “Jetsons fallacy”: based  on a TV show set in the year 2062. It became a household show. Everyone was watching it. And it depicted a world in the future where cars fly and people can be transported in pneumatic tubes and there are robots everywhere, but the people are exactly the same as the people of 1962.

Consider the other side of the debate? What about using these techniques to enhance healthy people, rather than treat or prevent disease?  Given the potential uses of CRISPR and other genetic editing techniques in the treatment or prevention of illness, it seems near certain that gene editing will become a major industry – and perhaps even a major part of life. It is easier to win the moral argument against altering the building blocks of life if you’ve developed a cure for cancer or heart disease. The benefits to humanity are obvious and immediate.

There’s been a line drawn in the sand between the two uses so far.   Marcy Darnovsky of the Centre for Genetics and Society (an organisation dedicated to looking at human biotechnologies from a social justice, human rights and public interest perspective), who put it like this: ‘When someone has a disease that’s threatening their life or their health, then yes, let’s try to treat them with gene therapy. But when it comes to modifying genes that we’re going to pass onto our children and to every cell in their bodies, and that’s irreversible, and that’s going to be passed on to all their offspring: that’s where we think the line has to be drawn’.

The line has been drawn many countries and by one international treaty – the Council of Europe treaty that the UK has not signed. The UK itself actually does have a national law against human germline modification, which is why Parliament had to vote on that mitochondrial manipulation technique.

Sarah Gray, of the American Association of Tissue Banks, made that same point in a more emotional, but no less relevant, way. Gray gave birth to a son with anencephaly and suffered seizures for six days until he died. As she told a National Academy of Sciences summit on gene editing, “If you have the skills and the knowledge to eliminate these diseases, then freakin’ do it.” 

As these technologies advance, they will make it possible to safely and effectively modify the DNA  of human embryos genetically. This is a choice we are going to have to make. Is this something we want to do or not? Because it’s going to become technologically and medically possible.

We have a technology that allows us to remake the world ourselves as we want – or think we want – it to be. The potential uses are virtually limitless. That creates a massive incentive to explore and push the limits of what we’re able to do.  How to use that power is going to be the most important story of the century.

The Artificial Intelligence Revolution has begun

A time in human history. when we eradicate killer diseases, add decades to the average human lifespan and when we master the art of creating machines capable of superintelligent levels of thought and skill, there’s one revolutionary breakthrough that’s going to be at the heart of almost everything that happens – the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

  • Energy technology: wind, tidal and PV generation, batteries and fuel cells.
  • Consumer technology such as smart appliances, plug-in electric vehicles and social networks.
  • Grid and operational technology – such as automated demand side response, microgrids and condition-based predictive maintenance
  • Information technology (IT) such as the Internet of Things, cloud, and big data.



Assistive technology

Robotics will actually improve our lives in a huge number of different ways.  It isn’t just the branch of technology that will ultimately put millions out of work as every job on the planet gets automated.  There are two categories

  1. Robotics that will assist us: to help us do things our bodies just can’t or won’t do. For instance, helping paraplegic people to walk again.  The Walk Again Project in Brazil announced that they’d helped eight paraplegic people to walk again using a combination of virtual reality, robotic exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces.
  2. The second category is technology that enhances our abilities, using technology to help us do things we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. Robots are already in our factories, increasingly in our homes and providing us with entertainment.


In the 2nd category, while the vast majority of uses are peacefully mundane,  robots can be used as military tools.The USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to have suits would allow soldiers to walk further, carry more equipment, offer protection from the elements and allow them to arrive less fatigued. It is easy to imagine this projected into, to me, inapproptiate superhuman soldier or killer robots.

Daewoo is experimenting with a powered suit for its shipyard workers that allows them to lift a 30kg piece of iron with ease. In a shipyard where that kind of activity is mundane, there are obvious advantages to pairing the sensitivity of a human with the brawn of a robot.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster several Japanese robotics firms developed special exoskeleton suits to enable people to reach otherwise inaccessible places.

Sam Volkering – futurist and financial advisor – “

It’s going to effectively change the structure of social groups, in that our definition of work is currently: you get up, you go to work, spend your day at work, come home. In the last 50-odd years robotics has replaced a lot of labour-intensive roles. You see it a lot in manufacturing now: manufacturing plants use a lot of stationary robotics. 

We’re now seeing a trend where robots or automated systems are starting to eat their way into middle-class jobs. You’ve got robo-advisors providing financial recommendations based on a huge amount of data input. So any kind of job that requires a bit of muscle power, or any reasonably repetitive work like bookkeeping – they’re just going to be replaced by automated systems or robotics. Things like self-driving cars – taxis, truck drivers, bus drivers – are not going to be needed, because why get a human to do a job that you can get a robot to do more safely, more reliably, and more consistently over a long period of time and at ultimately lesser cost?

That’s going to create more creative, highly skilled jobs, and jobs that perhaps don’t exist today that no one can predict. It’s going to be a shift of what we know as work. You might end up with three or four jobs on the go. There’s no such thing as a career anymore. You end up with several jobs as your work – micro-work. 

That’s going to mean a shift of where people go physically to work, and how they interact and communicate with each other on a daily basis. It’s not going to be about getting up and going to the office, then going home. You might get up, go to a hub somewhere, interact with a bunch of people on one of your jobs. Then work from home for a couple of hours and then have to go to another community set. That’s going to create issues with transport and things like that. 

Work is such an important part of our social fabric that when there’s a big shift in what it looks like, it’s going to create a lot of ancillary fluctuations in infrastructure: where we go, energy usage in various locations, etc. 

People don’t like change, so that’s going to cause a lot of problems. You’re going to find a lot of people ending up out of work who haven’t had the foresight to reskill or retrain. It’s going to put a strain on economies, because they’re not going to be able to handle these people out of work, and there’s going to be a shortage of people needed for the high-skilled jobs that this change is going to create.”

Ergonomics for DESIGNERS of work chairs

OhmaeYour most immediate reading should be at    For Architects & Manufacturers.    You can navigate on from this or from the side Navigation Menu.

May I be so bold as to suggest that….

  • The comment of Kenichi Ohmae (above) is apposite. ☛ Various chairs→
  • You must not be  misled by ‘comfort’, that treacherous guide  which only turns up truthfully when the bio-mechanics (ergonomics) are fully correct.  See ☛ Comfort→
  •  Remediating the ergonomics is more important. Comfort is improved the nearer a full remediation  is approached.  Full remediation = maximum comfort.
  • The correct search should be for the Hippocratic “Do no harm”.
  • This can only be achieved by an understanding of the  biomechanics. It is hoped that this work may provide you with this, a resource describing the requirements for safe design. By incorporating the points made in this work,  comfort and ergonomics of both the simplest and most advanced ‘ergonomic’ chairs  should be improved .
  •  Ergonomic chair design seems to have come to the end of the road without huge success in avoiding LBP.
  • A new fix is in order and can be effected by the 2T concept.   A ‘paradigm change’?
  • Bio-mechanic adverse designs can be avoided.Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 18.19.39
  • There is now no excuse for poorly designed chairs and the conventional mis-advice that is perpetuated.
  • Some selling points to manufacturers and architects are added if required.

For ARCHITECTS. ‘Coolness’ is the word.

 For New offices ‘Coolness’ is the word to  excite media interest for both the company and the Architect/Designer.   Most firms aspire to project this cutting edge image.    A 2T chair answers this exactly and in addition reduces LBP and increases productivity by lessened morbidity and stress.

THE RELEVANCE OF THE 2t  (3M) concept

In order of importance :-

  1. Addresses the recogmized bio-mechanical (ergonomic) factors responsible for musculo-skeletal discomfort which include backache, LBP, and more derious breakdown.   (See the bio-mechanics    )
  2. Ensures maximum (optimised) comfort.  This depends on the ergonomics and NOT on short term opinion.  See COMFORT
  3. Subsidiary factors include relevance to the modern and future office environment, cost, brand image and user targeting.
  • I have always recognised the historical role played by architects in chair design.
  • Recently I have realised that they play an important part in development as they are able to dictate requirements for projects.
  • Health  and productivity, go in step, and should be a prime consideration in office design.
  • Architects can hardly be expected to be experts on ‘ergonomics’  (preferred the more scientific term ‘biomechanics’).
  • They rely on specialist advice and should know what questions to ask.  So who to ask?
  • Chair manufacturers.  Interested only in running the company, sales, etc.
  • Designers.  With a design team, become responsible for development of new models. Few, if any, have full overall understanding of medical issues, spinal biomechanics and anatomy and this results in misconceptions.
  • Office Managers. Responsible for purchases, rely on lists derived from suppliers and manufacturers hype. Often misconceived!
  • This work is intended to help correct these deficiencies from at least a bio-medical viewpoint and is therefore relevant to architects.
  • I have to admit, that, as a doctor,  the frequent  views of large offices shown by the BBC and others, supposedly showing the wonders of a hub layout, only excite in me “OMG!  That’s a factory for manufacturing Backache!”   Sorry. HAS.

Office ergonomics

Poor seating is a major stressor resulting in reduced performance and absenteeism.  At present I know of no chair in the market that fully remediates this.     New seating concepts are coming forward which will not only revolution seating but also impact on office design. In a few decades a chair set before a desk, and arranged in straight lines will be perceived as not only dated but hopelessly inefficient. There is an increasing interest in this direction.   See Mindset which with much hype describes GlaxoSmithKline’s purposed “deskless office”.(below).Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 20.22.14

The designers of this layout obviously did not have the benefit of having seen this work.  The Jukes concept  of 2001 seem to be superior and were tested in the field.   The 2T concept, whether the 3M or 4M versions, are the front runners here as the only system that is fully ergonomically optimised for prolonged sitting (☛The Full Solution→) and also allows a better floor arrangement.

The only problem is that no such chair exists yet in the market.


Relevant to the development of a 4M office station and this model was developed as a project by a group of undergraduates at Cambridge.

 The new ‘millenial’ generation is less influenced by ‘familiarity bias’.


The ALTMARK Chair has both a reclined and upright mode which puts it ahead of the market.

But fails with 4M requirements to make it full bio-mechanically correct, particularly in the 2T intermediate mode. (See 4M workstations)

 “Desks are rather a thing of the past – Dickensian even. They evolved as tables with storage developed, alongside chairs. The whole combination seems a way of reducing/avoiding the need for floor sitting or squatting and a means to provide a convenient standing/sitting presentation of objects for working with at an ergonomically higher level.  They were there to support and present paper documents and the like. Hardware, since then, was largely developed to be used with/on them and has evolved through typewriters and similar devices to today’s electronics. Once that demand for physical documents has been reduced and even eliminated by ‘paperless’ office tech., then there is once more a blank page to draw on.”

The 4M workstation will be particularly relevant to the coming AI, VR & MR developments.  See   ☛ →, ☛ →                           

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 17.23.07

So, why not?  Don’t lose out .  It is already happening!    The boundaries between contract and home furniture  are decreasing and the division may be disappearing entirely.

Management Perceptions.

It is a view at the best end of the management spectrum, in the USA,   that highly paid, expert workers should have optimum working conditions to provide maximum productivity.  Anything less would be economic foolishness.  This is not the view held by many UK firms which employ a highly paid workforce in an environment which reduces their productivity by a  measurable percentage.  This is accentuated in the control room environment which operate on a full time basis and where mistakes can lead to a catastrophe.   This has been honourably recognised by such firms as Transco, BT, C&W and some police forces which have been careful to optimise the environment in such premises.   The offices of companies like Google, Skype and Facebook, are like a playground with innovative furniture which would have looked outrageous ten years ago.  This could include the 2T concept that I introduced in 1998.  It is now begining to look quite ordinary although designers still lose out, have difficulty in recognising the underlying bio-mechanical essentials.

The 2t & it’s 4M derivative exactly matches the requirements for the office of the future.

The OFFICE OF THE FUTURE (and maybe ‘near future’).

Sam Volkering – futurist and financial advisor – “In the last 50-odd years robotics has replaced a lot of labour-intensive roles. You see it a lot in manufacturing now: manufacturing plants use a lot of stationary robotics.    … automated systems are starting to eat their way into middle-class jobs. You’ve got robo-advisors providing financial recommendations based on a huge amount of data input.   That’s going to create more creative, highly skilled jobs, and jobs that perhaps don’t exist today that no one can predict. It’s going to be a shift of what we know as work. You might end up with three or four jobs on the go. There’s no such thing as a career anymore. You end up with several jobs as your work – micro-work. 

That’s going to mean a shift of where people go physically to work, and how they interact and communicate with each other on a daily basis.    Work is such an important part of our social fabric that when there’s a big shift in what it looks like, it’s going to create a lot of ancillary fluctuations in infrastructure: where we go, energy usage in various locations, etc. … It’s going to put a strain on economies, because they’re not going to be able to handle these people out of work, and there’s going to be a shortage of people needed for the high-skilled jobs that this change is going to create.”

(Quoted via Nick O’Connor (Publisher, Exponential Investor and recently published in his book … .

If interested, a personal view of the future can be seen →… Largely based on the research of Nick O’Connor.  .


For another view – Should chairs be banned? See  The end of sitting? →

Suggested by the interdisciplinary Dutch studio RAAAF (Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances) and lies at the crossroads of architecture, visual art and philosophy.   In our society almost the entirety of our surroundings have been designed for sitting.  Evidence from medical research suggests that prolonged sitting results in serious health deficits.   These are so widely studied and well-documented that they’re impossible to ignore and show that sitting increases lower back pain, slows our metabolisms, and shortens our life-spans, amongst other things. Not even daily exercise is enough to offset the damage.

Redesigning the workplace environment and home might manipulate an impact on sedentary behavior.  Their installations are mostly conceptual.  But they bring up an interesting idea: What if chairs were eliminated altogether? Is that even possible? And would that solve work and societal sitting problems or just open up the door to new problems?

A better solution

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 00.03.13


A digression….

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 15.25.14

MANUFACTURERS of ergonomic chairs

For MANUFACTURERS of ergonomic chairs new ideas can create both threats and opportunities , once both familiarity  and normalcy biases are overcome.  Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 17.23.07Creative disruption works.  

This has happened many times in recent history: comfortable incumbents,  making incremental changes to their designs and then a disruptor emerges, and they’re dead.   Kodak is an example.   The car industry is an ongoing example. Performance has improved compared to that of a  car of only ten years ago. But the experience of driving is essentially the same and the gains are marginal. They are now threatened by the new technology of outsiders  who have very little to lose.  These can disrupt the market so fundamentally that everyone else has to change their business model or go bust. Traditional car firms are worried about the likes of Google (driverless cars). Tesla (driverless and long range electric). And Apple ( Project Titan?).



Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 19.09.47

Business theorist Clay Christensen says :

“The reason [for why great companies failed] is that good management itself was the root cause. Managers played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. The very decision-making and resource allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies: listening to customers; tracking competitors actions carefully; and investing resources to design and build higher-performance, higher-quality products that will yield greater profit.

“These are the reasons why great firms stumbled or failed when confronted with disruptive technology change.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 19.28.20The 2Tilt concept.

  • Spinal bio-mechanics dictates that prolonged sitting should be performed in a reclined position.
    This involves a number of requirements.
  • To be effective these are detailed in the 2 Tilt (2T) concept.  By remediating the adverse bio-mechanical factors in prolonged sitting, the more 2T compliant the model becomes.
  • A fully 2T compliant chair is fully ergonomically optimised (and optimally comfortable).
  • This concept will inevitably and logically move into the mainstream of chair design.
  • Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 14.03.18


The bias holdup

Normalcy biasFailure to understand familiarity and normalcy bias is likely to lead to serious problems for firms, however big.  We are hardwired to believe the world we live in today and to which we are acclimatised so that we become incapable of Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 14.05.05comprehending and believing that change is coming (→Familiarity bias).  It’s a dangerous trap for manufacturers of ergonomic office chairs to fall into and it can blind recognition to a very real and credible threat.

  • Prospective manufacturers can be helped to leap ahead of the field.
  • ☛ For Implications & likely uptake→..
  •  Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 14.04.202T chairs may become obligatory for prolonged sedentary use.  In this event there will be considerable loss to manufacturers and offices that use mid-upright chairs if they fail to upgrade.
  • Only a few firms wish to have a ‘retro’ look.   Most want to project a cutting edge image.  ‘Coolness’ is the word.  A 2T chair answers this exactly and in addition reduces LBP and increases productivity by lessened morbidity and stress.
  • Once a 2T chair hits the market there will be much media interest providing automatic PR.    Firms without a 2T model are likely to be disadvantaged.

Some MANUFACTURERS of ergonomic chairs  are mentioned in ‘ Various chairs. How do they measure up?  ‘  Intended only to illustrate points in relation to the 2T concept and include :-

The mention of these companies indicate that they are interesting for various reasons.

  • LBP (& 2T) is already of interest to Insurance.


With the advent of AI and robotics affices will be geared to the emotional and physiological requirements of the highly paid staff.   2 Tilt chairs and their 4M derivatives will be exactly relevant.

The Global environment.    Where does the 2T chair stand in relation to the global environment and recycling?

  • The 2T simplicity of design allows it to have the potential to be superior to any other equivalent task chair for impact on environmental factors like global warming, smog, resource depletion, and waste.
  • With virtually no, or fewer, complex moving parts, controls and widgets, manufacturing processes and costs  are reduced.
  • Manufacturing cost usually account for a large proportion of the energy cost of a product.
  • Any materials considered safe to the environment can be used.
  • Recycling. Components can be either used as biological nutrients or transformed into commercial commodities available for industry.
  • Disassembly. With fewer widgets and working parts this is easier than other high-end task chairs.
  • Large amounts of oil, gas, and coal is required to mine raw ores, crush them, transport them, smelt them down and turn them into stock, transport them again, and turn them into end-products. . . then transport them again.

Uptake? Implications?

  Implications? Familiarity bias.

Ten years ago, the advantage of the 2T concept was apparent to John Jukes, a pioneer in the optimisation of the office environment  and Prof. Derek Clements-Croom, Director of Research in the School of Construction Management and Engineering at the University of Reading.  Also the reaction of most who had experienced LBP was immediately positive – “Where can I buy this chair” (of course, they couldn’t).   The reaction of chair designers and manufacturers was different.        Blank incomprehension.  Mainly due to ‘Familiarity bias’.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 18.07.31Western people have been indoctrinated that adverse mid upright sitting (See ☛Mandal→) is ergonomically ‘correct’ and have sat in this sort of chair since childhood and so  ‘Familiarity bias’ results. This is a normal reaction of people who have only experienced one way of doing things and results in various levels of denial and incomprehension, when exposed to anything new.  This mind-set can prevent them from seeing the real benefits of a chair that is scientifically shown to be correct but looks different and is actually more comfortable.   It will take time to change this perception and will happen once chairs designed on bio-mechanically correct lines are manufactured and their advantages explained.  Those who are liable to backache will be the first to see the advantages and will create a demand.   The newer generation is more open to fresh ideas and takes quickly to a 2T design.   Insurance is already begining to take an interest (personal communication).

However, as mentioned, perceptions are changing. Last week (on 19th Sept. 2013) , at a major international design show in London, I found several major Scandinavian and German manufacturers who accepted my views but hesitated to translated them into actual products.  I was even invited to Germany!    This year (2015) several designers said “I have read your views and agree, But…..” .   Which was usually ‘Familiarity Bias’.   Office of companies like Google, Skype and Facebook, is like a playground with innovative furniture which would have looked outrageous ten years ago.  This included the 2T concept that I introduced in 1998.  It is now begining to look quite ordinary although designers have difficulty in recognising the underlying bio-mechanical essentials.

For example, recliner chairs are only suitable for home use.  A 2T (or 3M) chair is different only because it can be used as a work chair.   Will people buy recliners when a cheaper and better designed dual purpose chair comes on the market?  This may also be particularly relevant to the growing ‘gamer’ market.

To my question “what is the most important factor in chair design?”The answer was always :-Comfort. (See Comfort→)

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ImplicationsThe physical and emotional stressor effect due to discomfort and LBP is reduced and results in higher productivity.  This offsets the slightly higher cost of a slightly greater footprint which can anyway be completely abolished or reduced by the use of work-stations (See 4M→) or  better office design and layout (see office design).   Anyone who has suffered or is suffering from LBP immediately recognise the significance of a 2T chair and themselves create a demand.     HAS 

Next ☛References




Office stress & Backache

Psychogenic and backache psychosocial factors.

The new office conditions which give rise to anxiety and fatigue, added to long hours spent in a physiologically unfriendly environment,  leads to high levels of morbidity and breakdown.    The simple explanations for this  state of affairs  is psychological ‘stress’.  An extreme expression of stress is described in America. Dotcom employees with excessive workloads in collapsing companies are found to be sabotaging equipment and systems and attacking fellow staff. This occured when Michael McDemott shot seven people at Edgwater technology.   Security and executive protection companies, such as Pinkertons and Interpahase International have found a recent business increase of 25%.

Psychosocial factors play a part in the aetiology of LBP.  But only a part.

This has received much attention since a Meta-analysis in Occupational Medicine (Waddell 2000).   Ignoring  the Cyriax diagnostic precision, suggests that most backache in the workplace is of psychosocial origin.

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The pendulum of expert opinion is moving away from this extreme view.    Psycho-social factors are hardly a cause of LBP, predicting only 1-5% of new occurrences (  ) but are good predictors of back pain behaviour, as previously recognised by Cyriax.  Depending on the patient’s personality and the surrounding social input and by unsympathetic or inadequate medical, or alternative medical, practice may be important in the management of some cases and can be over emphasised. “Stop complaining and get back to work immediately” is an encouraging message for management in an industrial society which has an increasing problem with LBP and a penchant for litigation.  Psycho-social stress factors, independently of ergonomic stress, are universal and commonly recognised as a cause of office related minor morbidity, absenteeism and reduced productivity.

 Environmental factors,

Air quality, light & noise are stressors and operate on a more basic physio-pathogenic level.   These are probably more aetiologically significant, but less easily  identified by the individual, than psychological stress.   John Jukes, an engineer and productivity consultant  made an unexpected finding when asked to investigate why a Design and Construction Unit (DCU) with a staff of 235 was failing to meet an expected target of 25%  increase of productivity when a CAD system, costing £1.5 million, was installed. They were urged to work harder and productivity actually fell further.  A number of indoor environmental factors were identified.

  • The ergonomics of the chairs and workstations were improved.  Productivity rose.
  • Full spectrum polarised lighting was installed. Productivity rose further.
  • The indoor air  quality (IAQ) was improved with HEPA filters and negative ionisation.
  • The plants recommended by NASA were installed. Productivity rose further.
  • Electrostatic and electromagnetic fields were addressed. Production rose further.
  • The final cost was less per workstation, the 25% target was easily passed and the DCU was able to reduce its workforce by 40%.

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 14.10.49 Not only was there an improvement of conditions, likely to be due to environmental deficiencies, improved but also the seemingly psychogenic stress related symptoms. This suggests that if environmental stressors are removed then people can deal more easily with their ongoing psychological stresses.

Indoor environmental stress

 In the home a stress-free environment is at the command of the occupant and is easily achieved. The multi-occupancy workplace, such as an office, is commanded by management and staff, highly paid or not, have to fit in to an often stressful environment which has been determined by cost considerations. The effect this has on reducing productivity is only now slowly coming to be appreciated.

Physiologic Stressors and their remediation.

  • Sub optimal ergonomics.  The subject of this work.
  • Poor lighting.   Indoor lighting is, unlike outdoor lighting, unpolarised.   Lighting by ordinary fluorescent tubes may appear white, but actually only emit light mainly in a narrow band at the yellow end of the spectrum. Only some 8% of the photo-receptors in the retina are stimulated (as compared to 79% in daylight). Added to this, and because of the ‘omni-directional’ nature of the light, some 25% of the light is lost as ‘glare’ – that is, light striking the eye directly and containing no visual information. A 52 cycle ‘flicker’ (in UK) is caused by the conventional ballast of fluorescent tubes. Refresh rate is detected by the eye although not registered by the conscious mind. In addition this rate interacts with that of the VDU screen (at 60-70 cps). This produces an even more deleterious flicker effect.    Halogen lights  generate even more glare.
  •  LightingStress from lighting can be easily and cheaply corrected by the use of full spectrum polarised lighting which aproximates to overcast outdoor conditions, equivalent to the light outdoors on an overcast day (in Washington DC at midday, to be precise)..  As less power is required, running and environmental costs are reduced.
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).  When air conditioning is replaced by HEPA filtration and negative ionisation, reduction in upper respiratory infections and the invigoration of mood has been shown to increase productivity. The system also has the advantage of eliminating modern small airborne particle pollution.   It is equivalent to mountain top air near a waterfall or the air quality that occurs following the electrical discharge of a thunderstorm.  Most offices have the positive ionisation  due to electrical and electromagnetic (EMF) emissions from the multiplicity of machines in the modern office that occurs before a thunderstorm or during prolonged desert winds.
  • Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 19.09.00Acoustics.  Sound is a far  more common physiological stressor than most people realise. Artificial noises generated by lifts, office equipment and so on tend to cause the body to continuously tense and relax. Poor sound design often means straining to hear your telephone call whilst being over-aware of what’s being said on the other side of the office. A series of hard flat surfaces ( office walls and ceilings ) bounces sound waves into a series of chaotic reflections that are hard to interpret.
    Office equipment generate saw-tooth sounds which in nature are used by animals as aggressive warning signals and square-wave sounds which are used for identification.  A high and prolonged level of noise is rare in nature but poor acoustics in an office leads to raised voices and distraction.    The sounds from office equipment, although discounted by our intelligence, acts as an alarm signal on the primitive part of the brain resulting in a continuous state of unrecognised stress and activation of the hypothalamic-pituitry-adrenal neuro-humeral cascade.
  • Chemical and particulate pollutants are in low concentration in nature and easily dispersed by air currents or denatured by ultra violet light.   The high levels found in industrial society are even higher in an enclosed office space where some are being produced.   A  bewilderingly large array of Volatile Organic Compounds, such as formaldehyde, are given off by new furniture and carpets and are cumulative toxins which can give rise to a number of both mild and serious conditions.

Office environment

The modern air conditioned office is a surprisingly stressful environment. Long hours spent in a physiologically unfriendly environment, leads to high levels of morbidity and breakdown.  Although often not reported, minor morbidity undermines the efficiency and productivity of the individual. Dependent upon the environmental conditions occurring in a particular office this reduction in overall performance ranges from 18% to 52%.

HSE figures reveal that 1 in 11 of the work force suffer occupational health problems, involving 750,000 people, and 1.3 million lost days of production. These figures represent only the tip of an iceberg when considering the vast number of people suffering from minor symptoms which are ignored, being regarded as a part of normal working life. As a large percentage of employees are affected, a lower performance throughout an office can often go undetected if work task efficiency is not measured systematically. There were 164,000 claims for stress related conditions in1999-2000, an increase of a third on the previous year.  270, 000 people daily take a day of work . The cost to the UK is £7 billion a year (Sunday Times 25/3/01).  See ☛Prevalence and economic cost of LBP→

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 14.08.50The simple explanations and for this state of affairs is the general assumption that the increase of morbidity is due to emotional stress. Companies have therefore turned to a bewildering variety of stress management strategies. This has given scope to gurus of many hues, starting with stress counseling and release.   There is not yet a general appreciation that environmental factors, air quality, light , noise, are stressors and operate on a more basic physio-pathogenic level and are probably more aetiologically significant, but less easily identified by the individual, than psychological stress. Although psychogenic factors may play a part in the office environment these may not be of prime importance.

 In my experience there have been 2 ‘Paradigm changes’ in this field which are related.
      1. The Cyriax functional examination for soft tissue musculo-skeletal system disorders
      2. John Jukes found that by assessing and reducing indoor physiological stressors that psycho-social stress was reduced and productivity increased by 20-30%.

Cyriax,, in the early 1940s, developed the functional system for the clinical diagnosis of soft tissue musculo-skeletal system disorders at St Thomas’s Hospital, London. This helped us to arrive at an accurate and localised anatomical diagnosis. A number of pseudo- conditions, guesswork and hocus-pocus, that prevailed at that time, therefore became extraneous. At the same time it became possible for this systematic clinical examination to identify a proportion of patients whose symptoms and signs did not correlate and whose signs on examination conflicted and did not add up to anything that suggested an anatomical localisation. These were categorised as ‘psychogenic’ (or p-g, psycho-social) as distinct from a recognisable ‘organic‘ lesion. He found that these patients, even if backache psychosocial factors overlay an ‘organic’ lesion, would fail to respond to treatment. This had to be avoided as treatment tended to continue indefinitely and the symptoms  become perpetuated.      Later the concept of ‘regional pain syndrome’ was developed which might account for some of these conditions on a vague neuro-physiological basis.


Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 11.41.10Environmental Improvements To Health and Productivity

By Stephen Bankler-Jukes, Managing Director, The Optimum Environment Co. Ltd.


Mankind evolved into Homo Sapiens Sapiens  (Modern Man) only some 237,000 years ago; according to recent mytochondrial DNA research conducted by Dr. Chris Stringer of the British Natural History Museum.

However, it’s only been in the last 200 years that any sizeable number of people have spent their working days indoors.  In the course of just the last 100 years, urbanisation has meant that increasing numbers of people have been forced to work indoors by artificial light.

In the last 25 years only have those self-same people been forced to work indoors – and in the presence of artificial flourescent light, air-conditioned heating and cooling, and in the presence of electro-magnetic fields generated by computers, faxes, telephones, printers, and other equipment.   In the same quarter of a century, state-of-the-art chemistry has provided the modern office with a whole range of artificial materials; – glues, finishes, carpeting and fabrics. They all utilise a mix of volatile organic compounds ( such as formaldehyde ) as a curing or hardening agent.  Though mankind does indeed possess a unique ability to mutate to deal with changed circumstances, the range and variety of new assaults on an individual’s physiology are not easily coped with – we simply can’t adapt fast enough. The transition from hunter and farmer, spending most daylight hours outdoors, to sedentary office worker has exacted a toll.   Spiralling rates of “stress-related” illnesses – from short-term problems of head-aches, upper-limb disorders, sore throats etc., – all the way to early morbidity  –  from hyper-tension, heart attacks, addiction, and even suicide… all are by-products of the modern office which have been listed by the (U.S.) Environment Protection Agency and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health .


An account of the bio-mechanic (ergonomic) factors, associated with prolonged sitting,  accounting for mechanical spinal pathology (Backache, LBP, IVDisc pathology, CTD) and options for their remediation.

  • Although intended as a resource for the design of work chairs, it represents some essential reading  for designers of ergonomic chairs and manufacturers of retail office chairs  if they wish to improve the ‘ergonomics’ of their models with overwhelming health selling points.  
  • Office managers should consult this blog as a resource.   It is also very relevant to Interior designers and architects involved with office design and not forgetting the ‘end user’ who has the ultimate benefit .

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 18.18.00The scientific evidence identified adverse effects which occur with conventional prolonged mid-upright sitting.   The big story here, however, is that it was found that a reclined mode is the only position that avoids all the adverse effects of conventional prolonged upright sitting.    For a reclined office work-chair to be practical a number of requirements are essential.  These have been covered in the The 2 TILT CONCEPT (Now designated 3M & 4M)  which was tested for practicality in the Cambridge MfI department.     Although originally considered outlandish, recently design is now moving in this direction.  The FUTURE is GOING THE 2T (4M) WAY→

This work can also act as a template to evaluate the ergonomic efficiency of any chair.  (→Various chairs. How do they measure up?).

NAVIGATION.  The Layout Arrangement of this work. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 19.39.58

This is indicated in the top menu↑.All post are shown in the menu on the right→.  For more detail see → NAVIGATION. To use this work


Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.43.13


Managing the Ergonomics

Managing the Ergonomics of Office Seating

 by John Jukes                       The Source Publishing Company Limited 

Ergonomics expert John Jukes asks is the Sit/Stand desk the answer to aches and pains in the office?

Research done by Dr Henry Sanford see, Orthopaedic Consultant at the Cromwell Hospital adds another dimension to the problem of ergonomic comfort in the office. Sitting in a semi reclined position at 45 degrees reduces the gravitational loading on the spine by 50%. This is similar to the astronaut position, which permits working under heavy G forces. A suitable headrest and positioning of keyboard and VDU screen makes this a perfectly practical working position without inducing sleep. Many programmers, CAD users, control room engineers and tall people are seen to adopt this position using an ordinary chair when  working for long periods – perching the tail on the front edge of the chair with their shoulder on the back and the legs out straight.

Sit/stand desks and pelvic support semi recline seating  in the UK have yet to become part of the normal office landscape. When they do there will be several million office workers that will be grateful to be free from daily debilitating pain.


He wrote

Dr Henry Sanford MA. MB. B Chir. (Cantab) D  Phys Med. (Lond) is a well known Consultant Orthopaedic Physician in London and Associate Consultant to the Department of Rheumatology, St Thomas’s Hospital, SE1.  Earlier he worked at St Thomas’s with Dr J H Cyriax who is regarded as the ‘Father’ of  Orthopaedic (or Musculo-skeletal) Medicine after following 2 years in the army finishing as a Captain in the RAMC.

He was a founder member of the Society of Orthopaedic Medicine (SOM), the British Society of Musculo-skeletal Medicine (BIMM) and was Chairman of the Cyriax Organisation..  He has run courses and lectured internationally                                                              John Jukes – 30/07/2001


HAS19.07.34HAS & M19.08.43                  





HAS in BAOR,1954

and with daughter, Marietta, in Cambridge, 2005.

BACKACHE? For users and patients (only)

OK.  So you use a chair and are liable to backache.   All this is very confusing and so what do you do?    I am no longer in the business of giving advice to patients and organisations.  However my interest in optimising chair design might allow me to offer some tips for users and patients (only).

Possible remediation.

If you have an expensive, top range chair, examine the section on how some of these relate to the 2T concept.  A good chair can be modified to approach the advantages of the 2T CONCEPT (see ‘A complete solution’).   This may help you modify your own chair.

  • Disable the adjustment that allows the pelvic support to be above 20 cm above the seat (?Chewing gum)    (see ‘Lumbar, pelvic/iliac support’)
  • Arrange for the adjustment control to allow easy back & forward movement.  Make the chair a 2T system – either reclined or forward but not intermediate. (Unstable intermediate mode→).
    • Intermediate ranges should be unstable.   They can be used as a rocking chair or as  therapeutic exercise following an acute episode of backache/lumbago.
  • In the upright mode the seat can be either tilted forward (see ‘The forward tilted seat), arranged to take advantage of the pelvic support providing this is correctly modelled or a combination.
  • Apart from chair height and head/foot-rest, adjustments should be set accordingly and then ignored or fixed.
  •  If you are buying, a back shop can show a number of models and advise but be aware that they are trying to sell you something and tend to feed you the manufacturers hype.

If your chair is really basic you may need some widgets. Possibilities are

  • A wedged cushion on the seat which helps approximate to a FTS.
    • Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.14.08One I assessed, from America, and wrote ” The seat pan is parallel to the floor (checked) but with some contouring that might add  2° .   The hip angle is shown to be 132° which is close to the optimum angle (130°) determined by pMRI studies to avoid  adverse movement of the Intervertebral disc contents (Smith FW et al. The Response of the Nucleus Pulposus of the Lumbar Intervertebral Discs to Functionally Loaded Positions. 2007;SPINE Volume 32, Number 14, pp 1508 –1512).   The views of AC Mandal  which he advocated in his book (Mandal. AC., The Seated Man (Homo sedens). 1985. Dafnia Publications,) are confirmed   He advocated a seat that was tilted forward and down by 20-30° from the horizontal, allowing the hips to extend to 120-130˚ and the pelvis to tilt forward with the lower spinal joints adopting the correct, safe, lordotic posture.    Note that the user is not constrained by a backrest and is free to move, the lumbar lordosis is maintained and the pelvis, not shown, is probably tilted forward.   (
  • A backrest cushion that gives iliac support.  Have a good look at the section here on iliac support that must not be higher than 20 cm above the seat and approximates as near as possible to the original Gorman model.
    • My patients loved the ‘PostureRight’ cushion which was designed by my old St Thomas’ colleague, Dr Bernard Watkins.
    • Various lumbar ‘Rolls’ are OK if correctly placed.
    • I have a cheap (£1) and cheerful wire & net model which works moderately well.

Remember the importance of exercise.    Good Luck!

There is plenty of well intentioned advice to be found on the web.  But please read this first (Sorry, hard work, I know) so that you can distinguish the  rarely well informed from misinformation  and hype, some that is frankly laughable.  Just have a look at Google→.

The best that I have seen is from Posturite in 4 easy diagrams.      Obviously written by someone who is well informed.

The Hermann Miller account from being almost laughable is now good, probably as a result of being advised by Andersson, the Swedish scientist. I find the latest (2015) account too diffuse to be easily comprehensible and illustrates some retro models.

JD Gorman’s holistic/ chiropractic account can be seen at ‘Natural Joint mobility’.