Bowl-shaped chair concept offers geometric beauty at the expense of ergonomics

Just like a table, the most basic requirements for a chair are quite simple. It needs to be strong and stable enough to actually sit on, but comfort and convenience seem to be more open to interpretation than any other design element. Some brutalist designs look a little painful to sit on, meeting only the bare minimum of a chair, while others let your body literally sink inside its plushy cushions and make it difficult to pull yourself out quickly. And then there are designs like this concept that espouse simplicity and minimalism to convey a sense of beauty, but the end result, while visually successful, also raises concerns about its actual usefulness and comfort.

Designer: Mauricio Coelho

A chair isn’t a simple form that can be expressed in a single shape. After all, there are a few interconnecting planes needed to give it legs and an actual seat. A backrest is common but not obligatory, and armrests are even more optional. The Oco chair concept comes close to that simplicity of form while still providing a visually interesting piece, and it accomplishes that by employing a shape you wouldn’t always associate with a chair.

Bowl-shaped chairs are uncommon probably for a reason. A hollow half-sphere might not be the most comfortable thing to sit in unless you fill that space with cushions like what the Oco chair does. With extremely thin planes for legs, the bowl almost looks like it’s floating in mid-air. Made using carbon steel and fiberglass, the chair brings structural stability while also providing some subtle material details, like the wood-like grains of the spherical body.

But while it is indeed a sight to behold, closer inspection might make you rethink the comfort it promises. The thick cushions do look plus, but they might not provide enough support for the person’s back. Or at the very least the back cushion doesn’t have enough height to support someone leaning back, forcing them to sit upright without proper support, straining their body over time.

The bowl’s edges are also left exposed, which could scratch, cut, or press on a person’s skin, especially on the back of the legs and forearms. A few slight modifications, like lining the edges with soft fabric or changing the angle of the bowl could help improve the ergonomics of the design without ruining the simple geometric beauty that this concept wishes to convey.