Sofa Ergonomics & Anthropometrics

Finding the right sofa fit for your comfort

Sofa Ergonomics

Finding the right sofa fit for your comfort

When making a decision on which sofa to buy, it's all too easy to make a decision purely based on the style of sofa you're looking for—some are just so good-looking! In short, form sometimes overtakes function.

But, just as it has to look good, a sofa has to fulfill a practical need too and considering the functionality of your sofa should go hand-in-hand with considering its design. Here's what you need to know.

When making a decision on which sofa to buy, it's all too easy to make a decision purely based on the style of sofa you're looking for—some are just so good-looking! In short, form sometimes overtakes function.

But, just as it has to look good, a sofa has to fulfill a practical need too and considering the functionality of your sofa should go hand-in-hand with considering its design. Here's what you need to know.

Sofa Anthropometrics & Ergonomics

Sofa Anthropometrics & Ergonomics

When choosing or designing a sofa, two terms which are important to know are anthropometrics and ergonomics.

Both might be words you associate with less-than-attractive desk chairs or bulky electric armchairs for the elderly but, in truth, anthropometrics and ergonomics are two things which everyone who is buying any type of seating should be aware of as well as the goal of every good furniture designer.

When choosing or designing a sofa, two terms which are important to know are anthropometrics and ergonomics.

Both might be words you associate with less-than-attractive desk chairs or bulky electric armchairs for the elderly but, in truth, anthropometrics and ergonomics are two things which everyone who is buying any type of seating should be aware of as well as the goal of every good furniture designer.

What is sofa anthropometrics?

According to Allsteel’s Ergonomics and Design Reference Guide, anthropometrics (anthropos = human; metron = measure) is “the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body” as well as the differences between individuals and groups. Anthropometrics is an important first step in designing or choosing a living room sofa which is best for you and any family or guests who may use it.

Anthropometrics uses a percentile range with most furniture being designed to suit everyone from the 5th percentile to the 95th percentile. This means that “the 5th% female value for a particular dimension (e.g. sitting height) usually represents the smallest measurement for design in a population. Conversely, a 95th% male value may represent the largest dimension for which one is designing.

The Ergonomics and Design reference Guide explains that "the 5th% to 95th% range accommodates approximately 90% of the population.”

What is sofa ergonomics?

Ergonomics (from the Greek ergo meaning work and nomos meaning laws) is the “science focused on the study of human fit, and decreased fatigue and discomfort through product design” explains Allsteel. Ergonomics can only exist by understanding the rules of anthropometrics.

The Furniture Industry Research Authority also explains, “Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use. Ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed.”

Ergonomics is vastly important in furniture design, particularly chair and sofa design. (It has been said that chair design is the “acid test” for designers.) That's because sitting for extended periods of time affects our bodies dramatically. The pressure is channeled downwards which puts a lot of strain on our lower backs leading to back pain, body aches and overall muscle fatigue. Blood flow is also affected. Poor posture whilst sitting may also cause the discs in the spine to compress and hip flexors to become short and tight, limiting their range of motion.

So it’s no surprise that what we choose to sit in is of major consequence. Your choice will directly impact your health and the health of your family and guests. Finding the most ergonomic sofa you can find is the goal. Convinced yet?

What is sofa anthropometrics?

According to Allsteel’s Ergonomics and Design Reference Guide, anthropometrics (anthropos = human; metron = measure) is “the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body” as well as the differences between individuals and groups. Anthropometrics is an important first step in designing or choosing a living room sofa which is best for you and any family or guests who may use it.

Anthropometrics uses a percentile range with most furniture being designed to suit everyone from the 5th percentile to the 95th percentile. This means that “the 5th% female value for a particular dimension (e.g. sitting height) usually represents the smallest measurement for design in a population. Conversely, a 95th% male value may represent the largest dimension for which one is designing.

The Ergonomics and Design reference Guide explains that "the 5th% to 95th% range accommodates approximately 90% of the population.”

What is sofa ergonomics?

Ergonomics (from the Greek ergo meaning work and nomos meaning laws) is the “science focused on the study of human fit, and decreased fatigue and discomfort through product design” explains Allsteel. Ergonomics can only exist by understanding the rules of anthropometrics.

The Furniture Industry Research Authority also explains, “Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use. Ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed.”

Ergonomics is vastly important in furniture design, particularly chair and sofa design. (It has been said that chair design is the “acid test” for designers.) That's because sitting for extended periods of time affects our bodies dramatically. The pressure is channeled downwards which puts a lot of strain on our lower backs leading to back pain, body aches and overall muscle fatigue. Blood flow is also affected. Poor posture whilst sitting may also cause the discs in the spine to compress and hip flexors to become short and tight, limiting their range of motion.

So it’s no surprise that what we choose to sit in is of major consequence. Your choice will directly impact your health and the health of your family and guests. Finding the most ergonomic sofa you can find is the goal. Convinced yet?

Finding The Best Sofa Dimensions For You

Finding The Best Sofa Dimensions For You

In theory, when choosing or designing a sofa, there are no limitations. If you wanted, you could certainly have an extra deep sofa with an extra long chaise end or a sofa with a very narrow seat depth to fit in a tighter hallway. However, in reality, neither work well ergonomically and, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

That’s why most sofas designed and manufactured by reputable furniture makers use of standardised dimensions. Whilst they may vary slightly, the average sofa dimensions have been identified to be the most appropriate for the majority of the population according to the rules of anthropometrics and prioritise posture health.

In theory, when choosing or designing a sofa, there are no limitations. If you wanted, you could certainly have an extra deep sofa with an extra long chaise end or a sofa with a very narrow seat depth to fit in a tighter hallway. However, in reality, neither work well ergonomically and, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

That’s why most sofas designed and manufactured by reputable furniture makers use of standardised dimensions. Whilst they may vary slightly, the average sofa dimensions have been identified to be the most appropriate for the majority of the population according to the rules of anthropometrics and prioritise posture health.

Sofa Measurement Dimension (Centimetres) Dimension (Inches)

Seat Height

40-45

15-17

Seat Depth

60-70

23-28

Armrest Height

57-70

22-27

Back Height

75-88

29-34

Sofa Measurement Dimension (Centimetres) Dimension (Inches)

Seat Height

40-45

15-17

Seat Depth

60-70

23-28

Armrest Height

57-70

22-27

Back Height

75-88

29-34

N.B. All measurements are taken from floor level and are given as rough guides as varying sofa styles and manufacturers differ.

N.B. All measurements are taken from floor level and are given as rough guides as varying sofa styles and manufacturers differ.

Be Careful With Bespoke Dimensions

Changes to the basic dimensions of a sofa (except for its length) must be considered with caution and preferably in collaboration with a furniture or interior designer.

Yes, there may be times when a particular furniture piece will only be used by one person - perhaps a chair to be used solely by a 6’7” man or by an elderly relative - but, for the most part, sofas are the anchor of a living room and will be used by a range of people. Remember, the 5th% to the 95th% design rule.

When standard dimensions are compromised, the resulting sofa design can be both noticeably uncomfortable or awkward and unnoticeably damaging to one’s health.

The Furniture Industry Research Association warns, “It is all well having an aesthetically pleasing product, but if there is no real user value, then the product doesn’t function according to the users’ anthropometrics. Good ergonomic furniture dimensionally fits the majority of the population it is intended for.”

It's best to stick to the manufacturer’s suggested dimensions, even when designing a custom piece, and reserve any bespoke changes for materials, finishes, arm and leg shapes and trim.

Be Careful With Bespoke Dimensions

Changes to the basic dimensions of a sofa (except for its length) must be considered with caution and preferably in collaboration with a furniture or interior designer.

Yes, there may be times when a particular furniture piece will only be used by one person—perhaps a chair to be used solely by a 6’7” man or by an elderly relative - but, for the most part, sofas are the anchor of a living room and will be used by a range of people. Remember, the 5th% to the 95th% design rule.

When standard dimensions are compromised, the resulting sofa design can be both noticeably uncomfortable or awkward and unnoticeably damaging to one’s health.

The Furniture Industry Research Association warns, “It is all well having an aesthetically pleasing product, but if there is no real user value, then the product doesn’t function according to the users’ anthropometrics. Good ergonomic furniture dimensionally fits the majority of the population it is intended for.”

It's best to stick to the manufacturer’s suggested dimensions, even when designing a custom piece, and reserve any bespoke changes for materials, finishes, arm and leg shapes and trim.

Sofa Placement & Posture

Sofa Placement & Posture

Not directly related to the design of a sofa but something which dramatically affects the lounging experience is the placement of a sofa. You can choose the perfect sofa - one which is both well-designed in form and function—but if incorrectly placed, the results may be the same as a badly designed sofa or worse.

Placement

Place your sofa facing the direction you intend to focus the sitter’s attention. If the purpose of your formal seating arrangement is to encourage conversation, have the sofa face the other sofa or armchairs and try not to have too many seats off centre.

Posture

Similarly, if the sofa is one which the family sits in to watch TV, position it facing and central to the TV and at an appropriate distance. Offsetting it, setting it at an angle or having it too close to the TV, will result in neck straining and twisting which are detrimental to back and neck health.

Not directly related to the design of a sofa but something which dramatically affects the lounging experience is the placement of a sofa. You can choose the perfect sofa—one which is both well-designed in form and function - but if incorrectly placed, the results may be the same as a badly designed sofa or worse.

Placement

Place your sofa facing the direction you intend to focus the sitter’s attention. If the purpose of your formal seating arrangement is to encourage conversation, have the sofa face the other sofa or armchairs and try not to have too many seats off centre.

Posture

Similarly, if the sofa is one which the family sits in to watch TV, position it facing and central to the TV and at an appropriate distance. Offsetting it, setting it at an angle or having it too close to the TV, will result in neck straining and twisting which are detrimental to back and neck health.

Creating Your Ideal Sofa

When it comes to sofa ergonomics and sizes, the most important thing to remember is to not try to be too adventurous and trust reputable manufacturers.

Sofa dimensions exist for a reason. If you stick with the established dimensions and opt for a high-quality frame and filling, your sofa will be as comfortable, supportive and long-lasting as possible.

Creating Your Ideal Sofa

When it comes to sofa ergonomics and sizes, the most important thing to remember is to not try to be too adventurous and trust reputable manufacturers.

Sofa dimensions exist for a reason. If you stick with the established dimensions and opt for a high-quality frame and filling, your sofa will be as comfortable, supportive and long-lasting as possible.

Here at LuxDeco, we are committed to helping customers around the world discover the sofa of their dreams. If you would like help designing or choosing your luxury sofa, contact our team at concierge@luxdeco.com or +44 (0)20 3322 8665.

Here at LuxDeco, we are committed to helping customers around the world discover the sofa of their dreams. If you would like help designing or choosing your luxury sofa, contact our team at concierge@luxdeco.com or +44 (0)20 3322 8665.

Discover More

Continue on your sofa journey and learn more about the craftsmanship and care that goes into the production of our luxury sofas.

Continue on your sofa journey and learn more about the craftsmanship and care that goes into the production of our luxury sofas.

Continue on your sofa journey and learn more about the craftsmanship and care that goes into the production of our luxury sofas.

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