Tuesday, 17 November 2009

TedX Dublin 2

TEDx Dublin returned last Thursday to a packed auditorium in the Science Gallery, where 100 of the most eager and quick-to-the-post (as tickets sold out in less than an hour) technology and design enthusiasts gathered for an evening dedicated to the 'D' in TED. If you're not familiar, TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design, and started off as a US-based conference for designers, scientists, thinkers and more. Now, in addition to conferences, TED.com presents videos of their speakers, telling us about their "Ideas Worth Spreading", and independent hosts are beginning to host TEDx events worldwide, which explains why we have TEDx Dublin.

The content ranged from tackling social problems like urban and rural planning and health problems like third-world blindness to the weird and wonderful new religion (Isism) of architect Mark Leslie and the even weirder and more wonderful Le Whif: fat-free breathable food, presented by Tom Hadfield. But the talk I most enjoyed was industrial designer Simon Dennehy's presentation on Perch: his ergonomic furniture for school children.

Perch is a project I've been aware of for a while, but it was great to hear Simon talk about the research and development process that has brought the work this far, and continues to go on. A lot of study on ergonomics and observations in classrooms led to Simon designing a flexible seat, giving you rigidity and reinforcement when sat back and flexibility and a saddle shape when sat forward, giving optimum support and comfort to the back and core of the body. The seat and backrest are also perforated to allow for maximum ventilation (so spelling tests are the only things you'll break a sweat over...)

As illustrated above (images via designcrack.com), both the flexible design of the seat and the shape and angle of the desk contribute to a more comfortable and healthy posture.The pitch of the desk also allows the student to work sitting or standing, simply by moving round to the other side of the desk and working from a tray or surface placed on the trough (though the desks and chairs are fully adjustable too). All-in-all, it's a pretty clever system, and much needed in schools (and indeed offices and studios) the country over.

For more information on future TEDx events (rumour has it the next one will be dedicated to E for Entertainment) visit the Science Gallery or become a fan on Facebook.