by Anmol AhujaJul 02, 2021
None of us are strangers to work desk-induced backaches. Our routines look vastly similar - stepping out of the house, from the elevator to the parking, driving to work, sitting in our cabins, and slogging away for hours glued in front of our screens. We barely take out time to stand up and stretch or park our vehicles some meters away to walk to the office. Despite knowing how crucial it is to change posture, keep active, and take regular breaks, we just don’t, regardless of whether we work from home or in offices. Amsterdam-based design duo HeijltjesAkkaya, led by Simon Akkaya and Maarten Heijltjes, has conceived a simply engineered furniture system to combat this, bringing movement and momentum into static workspace environments with A Simple Machine.
“A Simple Machine was born from our experience of trying to improve our own way of working. Office seating is designed to keep you seated. But no ergonomic chair can negate poor posture or the effects of hours of inactivity. Standing desks offer the possibility of switching from sitting to standing, which is good. Yet, most contradict the active attitude they try to stimulate with slow, externally powered movement, initiated by pressing a button. Failing to find fitting solutions in current work furniture, we were curious what would effectively stimulate ourselves to have a more active workday,” shares HeijltjesAkkaya.
Comprising the Counterweight Table, the Gas Spring Table, and the Hour Stool, A Simple Machine is a series of furniture design defined by a materiality of powder-coated steel, birch plywood, oak, and aluminium. These combine ergonomics and engineering to inculcate easy physical activity in static work or home environments, integrating pulleys, weights, and levers, in its working design. The user’s motion is mirrored in the moving parts of the functional pieces, transforming them subtly, increasing activity and interaction, inviting active working, and conceived solely for the purpose of “movement”.
A cylindrical counterweight balances the tabletop’s mass as well as its frame, resulting in a floating surface that can be fixed at any desired height. A custom magazine holding extra weights offers the option of altering the counterweight and balancing a heavier load on the table.
Gas Spring Table
This piece uses a lever and gas spring to press a wheel along the under-side of the aluminium tabletop, emerging as a weightless work surface. One can then move the tabletop effortlessly by pushing it up or down.
“The Counterweight Table and Gas Spring Table are almost inside-out constructions from folded steel and industrial parts, designed to last multiple lifetimes,” the Dutch designers share.
The Hour Stool
Archetypical in shape, even somewhat spartan in appearance, this one is a complementary object to use as a seat with the Counterweight or Gas Spring Table, or for any other table or working surface. The Stool is designed for an active posture, for regular switching between sitting and standing. By simply turning the seat, one can change the height of the stool.
After a decade of working under the moniker of Waarmakers, the two designers switched to HeijltjesAkkaya, to portray a more personalised and experimental approach that lines their work. Their objects, like A Simple Machine, are formed out of genuine curiosity of how product designs and our physical and living environment affect human behaviour.