Ergonomics, aesthetics and the anthropometric properties of furniture

When buying a piece of bespoke furniture we rarely take into account the major design principles that go into crafting the perfect perch. The design principles are ergonomics, aesthetics and anthropometrics. These three core design principles effect the way in which interact with everything we use.

Buying a piece of furniture, on the surface may seem like a choice purely based on looks alone (and for some I’m sure it is) but to truly get the optimum comfort out of something we must consider the largely overlooked properties of a product. By ignoring the other factors of a product we leave ourselves open to inevitable disappointment. For example, a sofa may look great and fit the style of your home, but in terms of its usability you may find it extremely lacking. Striking a careful balance is key.

To be able to clearly establish what the core principles are we must therefore define them:


This term refers to the design of a product in relation to the body and its movements. So for example, in a workplace environment an employee’s chair will be designed with the user in mind. Posture, body mechanics and contours are all taken into account. I’m sure you’ve noticed the wide spectrum of human beings on this earth; designers always conceptualise with this fact in mind. By designing for a greater scope of users, you open up your product to a larger consumer market, and as a result increase potential profits. But ergonomics (as a whole) stretches far beyond monetary outcomes. Health and productivity also factor in as well. By considering the user’s health in both the short and long term it reflects a conscious effort on the part of the designer to combat the onset of injuries in later life. An ergonomically designed desk for example can boost workers productivity considerably because of the fact it was designed with the user in mind.


This term refers to the general beauty of a product in the eyes of the viewer. Though visual appeal is a part of the aesthetics it’s not the only part. Sound, smell, touch, taste and movement all contribute to the quality of a product. For example mobile phones, apart from being a technical feat of portable technology also try to appeal to our visual needs. Colour, shape, texture, size etc all factor into the decision as to whether the phone is right for us. Consumers who aren’t necessarily the most tech “savvy” for example, will regularly base their decisions on looks alone. As aforementioned this can prove to be the downfall of many consumers. From a design standpoint, producing a product that seamlessly manages to look appealing all while retaining form and function is the mark of a truly great piece of engineering.


This design term refers to the look of a product in relation to the human body. By attributing a product to the human form we can discern the top from the bottom, the front from back and the sides. This doesn’t necessarily suggest that product must resemble any actual part of the human anatomy but that it is relatable. Take an iron for example, we can tell the front from its back immediately, that’s because it’s been designed with anthropocentricity in mind. If we also take a look at other humanistic things we can attribute to anthropometric design you’d recognise things of a cultural and traditional nature.

Now that we are aware of the core design principles, we are now better equipped to sift through the barrage of wonky wardrobes, clunky cabinets and dire draws.