Beyond the Desk

It is rather absurd that we have to sacrifice our bodies' wellbeing while performing knowledge work, and make up for it through exercise.

We need pose literacy; a grammar that fuses the semantics of posture and tasks-at-hand. Like learning keyboard shortcuts, poses can be learned and composed for a more ergonomic experience in the digital world.

Furniture-driven software.

EleVR's "Office of the Future"

I’m starting to see a glimpse of body aware computation systems that through physical posture promote feelings of safety and well-being

  • M Eifler

On top of that I added lime green and purple yoga mats, bright orange bolsters, yoga blocks, and belts. (Yes the color matters, but I’ll get back to that.) These props, and the ways we use them, come from restorative and yin yoga. Restorative yoga is an approach to yoga asanas (poses) which works directly with the nervous system, promoting feelings of safety and security by supporting every joint in the body and using verbal cues to encourage deep relaxation. Yin yoga uses the same poses but with different emphasis. The goal in yin is to elongate connective tissue. Connective tissue is everything from bones to joint capsules to the honeycomb of endomysium which surrounds and gives structure to every muscle cell in a vast continuous network. Unlike the muscle fibers themselves which are elastic (bounce-baFck-fulness) connective tissue is plastic (stretch-ableness) which means that it will change shape with any low intensity, long duration position. You are already doing connective tissue modifying things everyday. If you use a laptop or phone you are familiar with hunch pose. Long exposures accentuate the kyphotic curve in upper spine (rounding the shoulders and ribs forward) and the lordodic curve in the neck (jutting the head forward). Blech. [...]

Ok Now we have covered the floor, the props, and the bodies let’s zoom out to the larger room then zoom in to software.

The floor you are on, the furniture you use, the design of the software, but also where you wear influences the experience you have in a headset. Where and how our VR play space is situated was inspired half by necessity and half by the ‘womb with a view’ concept from home design I learned from Winifred Gallagher’s book House Thinking (Thanks Margaret for the recommendation!). Gallagher describes a framework for building living spaces that “improve[s] our lives and perhaps even our mental health” by balancing 5 components: prospect, refuge, enticement, peril, and complex order. If they can make a home feel homier why can’t they make a studio feel safe and playful? Safe-at-home is exactly the feeling a VR space needs because as Gallagher points out “Safe at home, we even enjoy perilous heights and pay extra for dramatic views, balconies, and staircases to prove it.” VR’s perilous heights included.

But while all these changes in environment and furniture and behavior can dramatically improve the experience of wearing, it must be met by software designed for the same union of mobility and stability. It’s this environment, not the swively present, ya’ll should be testing in. A simple example: What makes the Youtube Daydream app better than the Netflix one? Youtube enables users to position the focal point anywhere. Netflix choose a fixed focal point that can’t accommodate many of these postures. It’s haunted by the specter of that swivel chair. Fixed focal point is 📂desktop metaphor, the old way. Variable focal point is 🎨studio metaphor, the new way.


I love the foam blocks+yoga mat language. I'm wondering how peripherals like VESA monitors or mice fit into the mix. Magnetic mounting might work. Could make a bunch of magnetic surfaces on those blocks (facing downwards, sideways) to stick a tablet to. See also: MOFT's Snap System ( / standing desks.

There's a severe lack of on-body/portable input methods. And objects that are blobby and non-orientable, where you can use them at their corners or centers.

Kinda want to make one of these but in a disc shape. Could work well with iPad cursor behavior.

playfoam as input

"No sitting room" in the Harvard Metalab's Library Test Kitchen

(The Humane Representation of Thought, 56:00)

Digital nomads seem to sacrifice ergonomics the most. What interventions are possible when in eg Vietnam on plastic stools?

Drafting tables

Michael Ashcroft's Alexander Technique work

Current alt-furniture offerings


What’s the architectural history here? Surely hippies tried this (pre computer)?

Tatami mats. Pre industrial Japan knowledge work?



Radical portability: what’s an ergonomic modular laptop look like? Where all the components are disconnectable and wireless. Kinda project ara vibes.



Novel iPad cases? What are the most radical iPad cases we’ve seen? To grip the device


Taking cues from studio spaces



These are delightfully alien - a different grammar of movement entirely



One handed/split handed handheld keyboards. Used to be more of these “cyborg” concepts in the 90s. Wearable computing etc.


AlphaGrip iGrip

AlphaGrip iPod Nano

Magic Leap controller

Samsung Rink

From Intelligent Image Processing


Tatami furniture / rationalist furniture

Rationalist furniture shares with the Japanese tradition of sticking to the floor. Soft rugs and reconfigurable floor-chairs afford dynamic layouts and postures for groups and individuals.




Bala bangles