The intentionally wobbly, US$8,500 LimbIC ergonomic chair
By David Szondy
August 9, 2012
One thing that’s generally expected of a chair is that it stays still. True, it might rock or swivel or recline, but if we’re sitting still, we expect the chair to do likewise. Dr. Patrik A. Künzler, head of the Swiss start-up Inno-Motion, disagrees. He has invented the US$8,500 LimbIC - a deliberately wobbly ergonomic chair that's billed as being comfortable to sit in for hours while promoting better health and creativity.
Developed at MIT and manufactured in Zürich, the odd-looking LimbIC chair appears almost impossible to sit on. Instead of a seat, it has a pair of pivoted cradles that look like a cross between a music stand and a gynecologist’s stirrups. These are, in fact, carbon fiber shells from a Formula 1 racer production line that hold the sitter’s legs at an angle. Each chair is handmade to fit the individual sitter, so the cradles are snug, yet comfortable. The chair doesn’t need a back because the sitter, even though in constant motion, remains balanced enough to sit straight without effort. This puts it one up on inflatable balls and other alternatives because no effort is required on the part of the sitter to remain stable.
The constant gliding and swaying motion of the chair is, according to Künzler, a combination of neuroscience and ergonomics aimed at promoting better health and creativity. It does this by stimulating specific “touch points” and moving the sitter in a manner that induces a feeling weightlessness.
All of this is designed to alleviate the problems caused by sitting for long periods while making the sitter feel more relaxed. Künzler says that the LimbIC chair stimulates the limbic system - the part of the brain containing the so-called “pleasure center.” He contends that the LimbIC chair’s stimulation improves the sitter’s performance and creativity and induces a feeling of wellbeing. In addition, the chair promote better health by constantly and minutely moving the spine. This strengthens vertebral muscles and improves spinal nutrition.