Q&A with Biza Chair

What influenced your decision to specifically design a chair?

The contest inspired us into action and we became fully committed to develop a product that was capable of meeting the expectations of the challenge. We were honored to be part of the process and we are profusely happy with the results, with the knowledge that our product will help address a real social issue.

The Creation of the Biza Chair was born out of our sense of empathy with the challenges faced by the elderly. With that in mind, we wanted to understand the subject better and so we met with several different specialized professionals, for example, the Physiotherapy Course Coordinator of the “Centro Universitário Newton”. We also worked with the Director of Lab60+ Director, as well as the Chief Nurse of a Retirement Community. All of these individuals provided real world input into what kind of challenges an elderly person faces in regard to sitting. We also took a closer look at similar furniture when visiting centers for the elderly, which is how we developed our detailed ergonomic specifications.

Working in harmony with the technical specifications, and in addition to the lateral arches that hold the pillows, we also sought to provide a pleasant aesthetic design, taking our inspiration from Brazilian artists. We also found inspiration in the lines of the “Oscar” couch, designed by the architect and designer Sergio Rodrigues. The parts that made the back of the chair were inspired by the Palacio Alvorada in Brasilia, designed by Oscar Niemayer, all of which brought a Brazilian touch to the finished product.

Do you have plans for commercialization?

We plan to make the project available for open source downloads, so that the users themselves can build it, but also it will be available for purchase as a ready-made product, with orders placed through our website.

Our plans to make the product available commercially will be carried out with the help of local partners, local business, and the Centro Newton of Entrepreneurship,

starting up first on a smaller scale with the help of the FABLAB Newton and the Architecture and Urbanism Center.

What difficulty, if any, did you encounter when creating your design?

The production of the mock-up we created in order to perform the design testing allowed us to detect mistakes that had to be corrected, where digital renderings weren’t enough to identify them precisely. The first problem we had was to understand and establish which would be the ideal angle between the back and the seat of the chair, so that the elderly wouldn’t suffer spinal damage, since that was the focus of the contest. Another worry between these two aspects of the final product was that they had to allow them to be loose from each other so that there would be breathing space for the lumbar area.

Another problem we had was to determine which would be the ideal height of the back seat, because it should not compress the user’s scapula. The elderly are more likely to have fragile tissues in that area. Another area of concern was anticipating wound care, keeping the area of the popliteal fossa free, thus allowing free blood flow in the area, preventing the appearance of edemas. The chair’s arm support also had to be soft, so that the effort made in standing up wouldn’t require contact with the hard and slippery wood surface.

Regularly interviewing the Lab+60 coordinator, and also visiting the retirement community Vila Vicentina in Sete Lagoas, MG, provided us with the opportunity to understand how the eldercare professionals touch and help those elderly persons who have limited mobility. With that basis we were able to determine that there’s a widespread practice of positioning pillows on each side of the chair’s seat, to help keep the elderly in the correct position. We then designed an arch on the sides of the arm supports, with the functionality of holding those pillows in place.

Related to the plasticity, the biggest difficulty we found was to determine which would be the ideal tangent for each arch present in the final product, with the idea that these arches, although different, would have some form of communication between them.

How would you describe the project to the general public?

There currently aren’t enough options in the chair market that are ergonomically correct, particularly for the elderly. We created the Biza Chair to serve this public and for those who stay seated for an extended period of time.