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From the Desk of Nichola Adams

Form or Function?

Form follows function! Or does it?

The architect Louis Sullivan coined the above maxim, referring mainly to the field of architecture, however we have often seen this principle applied in the design of ‘ergonomic’ solutions.

Ergonomic design principles aim to create products, environments, and systems that are optimised for human use, enhancing comfort, efficiency, and safety.

Good design should be inclusive user centred design. Designers must consider the physical, cognitive, and emotional needs of users. We can use anthropometric data to ensure that products and environments are sized and shaped to accommodate a wide range of body types and sizes. This includes considerations for height, reach, and other physical dimensions.

A thorough analysis of the tasks that users will perform is crucial. This helps in designing products and workspaces that facilitate these tasks, minimising physical strain and cognitive load.

Design should emphasises comfort and support reducing discomfort and fatigue during prolonged use. Knowledge of biomechanics can help designers to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

So back to that maxim…

In recent times we have seen too many designs labelled as ‘ergonomic’ and putting too much emphasis on aesthetics over functionality. Generally if it looks ‘too good to be true’ it probably is!

In 2023 it is important that great functional design also ‘looks amazing’ or it won’t get used. Designers need to up their game in the sector. So maybe the new maxim should be “form and function in equal measure”?

Let us know your thoughts!

Nichola Adams

Founder of Inspired Ergonomics

Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF, ACPOHE Reg Member, is the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics.

Nichola is a specialist in back pain disorders in the workplace. Inspired Ergonomics regularly provides consultancy services to leading UK and International companies on how to reduce and prevent back pain in the workplace as well as working with rehabilitation companies.

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