Let’s talk about butt-shapes.

It’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not about to discuss butt sizes and which is more attractive. Let’s leave that in the eyes of the beholder. I’m talking about the shape left behind if your chair were made of styrofoam.

Let me tell you a story:

I’m on Skype with my parents. It’s around 8 pm, they’re sitting by the fire in their Virginia home complaining about the weather (it’s 10 below 0! I’m not sure if they meant F or C, but either way… that’s cold). The lunar eclipse is about to happen so we chat about that too. Anyway, at one point, my mom starts laughing off-screen and my dad lifts up a piece of white styrofoam with two half egg-sized dimples in it spread about two fist-lengths apart. I look at him with my eyebrows raised, perplexed. I can’t help smiling a little. 

“Are you guys conducting a product design experiment?” I ask. My dad doesn’t answer directly. 

“Your mom sat on this and look what shape she left. Ha ha ha!” Then he flips the styrofoam piece over to show me the other side. “I mean, look at the difference compared to when I sat on it.” he continues to laugh. His side had not much character, just evenly pressed down in a semi-elliptical shape, with some variance in the middle. 

Butt seriously

The conversation turned to other things, but as a designer, this massive difference stayed in my mind. I thought about it during yoga, while rolling out my hamstring injury, and more recently in the shower. What if I conducted an experiment to see more butt shapes? I laughed a little at the thought. How weird, but how possibly enlightening. It would even be interesting as an art project with product design implications. An intimate exploration, dare I say. 

We in the western world spend many hours in our lives sitting, but I haven’t seen as much thought put into chairs as I’ve seen in similarly time-spendy items such as mattresses (for sleeping), or shoes (for running/walking). I know I’m not the only one to think of chair ergonomics, but I’d be interested to see if anyone has seen such experiments done before, and what they lead to.

Have anything to add? Do you have a chair that you really like  (or hate) to sit on? What makes it so great (or so terrible)? Feel free to comment below.

One thought on “Let’s talk about butt-shapes.

  1. I can relate to that. I have the same bony butt. When I sit on styrofoam I leave two steep craters.
    When I designed my custom fiberglass bike saddle, I took a plaster molding of my butt. I still have it in the shed, you can use it if needed for UX design, it’s not copyrighted 🙂

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