TEDxBratislava - Jader TOLJA - Body Conscious Design

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 06.10.2012

let's see the first slide
Have you ever seen some gloves made like this?
No? That’s good because it would be an insult to
millions of years of evolution and to body intelligence.
Especially after Gever's talk this morning
But... have you ever seen some shoes like this?
Yes... I know you have seen some.
They are very common and there is not a big difference with the cones we just saw.
The absurdity is that our hands and our feet are very similar.
They both have twenty six bones, thirty three joints.
So, let’s see what happens when our foot meets a shoe.
This is a human foot and it has this shape basically because it is a triangle.
A triangle is like a tripod - it gives you stability.
The wider this triangle, the more stability you have.
And physical stability means also psychological stability because
body and mind are not two separate things,
but in some way one is an expression of the other one.
So the problem is that our shoe has a completely different shape.
It is also a triangle but (oriented) in the opposite direction.
So when our foot meets a shoe like this
we have two possibilities
The first possibility is very radical.
It is this.
You need a high bank account... and a very low IQ (laughing...)
to achieve this kind of surgery.
So what the rest of us do, when we meet a shoe, is to squeeze our foot into the shoe.
And the reason why is because the shoe maker
or the fashion designer
didn't start from our foot
but they started from a piece of wood or a piece of plastic
They're actually making shoes for Pinocchio, not for us.
So, instead of constructing a shoe around our foot or for our foot
to save it's intelligence or the lines of force,
what we do instead is to deconstruct the lines - to deconstruct our foot
to fit into a shoe.
Which is, conceptually, not very different what Chinese women did
a hundred years ago
It is basically the same process, the same direction:
adapting our anatomy to an idea instead of the idea to our anatomy.
Basically this is an x-ray of a Chinese woman's foot
of one hundred years ago and this is our foot.
So we do something similar.
They were suffering for an idea and we are suffering for an idea.
They were thinking at least to be beautiful and they were satisfied with the result
We think to be beautiful and we are satisfied with the result.
It took one hundred years to realize
that this was something weird
and probably in one hundred years when somebody will find
X-rays or bones of our skeletons
probably they will think that we were weird too,
in (the year) two thousand something.
What happens is that at birth
only one percent of us has some foot deformation.
That when we are year old almost ten percent,
precisely eight percent, of people already have a deformed foot
from the first encounter with shoes.
Then at the age of five the majority of us - 60 percent,
is succeeding in getting a deformation that fit with the the shoes
and by the age of twenty, 80 percent, almost all,
have, finally, a deformed foot.
So, what happens with industrial design?
Basically happens the same.
I teach in different design academies and in one of them there are a lot of chairs
given as a gift by the designers who come there to teach.
Every year I have taught there, I asked the students to
go around to choose the chair
among all chairs, there are tens of chairs of different kinds of design,
to choose the one they think is the most comfortable
and the one they think is the least comfortable.
Every year they come out with the same two chairs:
They always choose this one as the most comfortable
and this one as the least comfortable.
What is interesting is that they don't try the chairs.
So I ask them to try them and to then choose
blindfolded, by experience, by feeling how their body responds
- to feel what happens to their body.
So they retry all the chairs and they always come
with the opposite result.
They choose this as the most comfortable, which is very similar to the one upon which you are sitting now
and this one as the least comfortable.
the concave shape is very appealing because
seems to put you in a comfortable position
But when you experience it,
what happens is that you actually slump in a chair that is concave.
That's why your chairs are not concave, for example.
But the problem is even more radical with chairs.
For example, we don't have shoes that fit with the human foot,
because shoemakers start from this kind of molds
which have all kinds of shapes, but they don’t have the shape of a human foot
It has been like this for centuries and we’re still doing the same things today.
The equivalent of these things for chairs is this:
these are the international standards and you see
how ridiculous is the position that is thought to fit the human being.
If you look around nobody of you is sitting like this. (laughing...)
They look like images from a physical education book of the thirties,
or coming from some totalitarian country.
The reality is that people sit like this, because
we don't like to close this angle.
We don't like because it implies an effort.
This is the reality of how children use, for example, sofas.
The reason why, is because we are not made like Pinocchio or like a puppet
made of disjointed sticks that can be put in every position without problem.
We also have some kind of sticks - like the bones -
but we are made of flesh...
so there are fascias, tendons, ligaments, ...
and a nervous system which is very sophisticated.
And when you move something everything has to be readapted.
So this fits for a puppet, but it doesn't fit for us.
Because we are more like a tensegrity structure.
A tensegrity structure has a neutral position -
a position in which it comes at rest.
Suppose these are elastics and sticks.
This position, this neutral position, has been very well known at least since the space age.
Because it is the position that astronauts take
in the space where there is no forces acting on their body.
It is the same position you take if you go in a swimming pool
without going in space, which is very expensive. (laughing...)
You can go in a swimming pool and just float,
just relax completely with your head out of the water
and look at the position you take.
You come out with a position that is more or less like this.
And this is very well known,
it has been measured too and ... we're still doing chairs like this.
So the result is that today only 10 percent of students
still have the lumbar curve
which is essential for all the body functioning, for all the physical functioning
and because, as we said,
there is an interplay between the body and the psychological aspects.
When we are depressed we take a C-shape,
but it is also true the reverse that if we take a C-shape,
we are prone to depression.
So, is what is happening in fashion design and industrial design
also happening with architectural design?
Here the problem is slightly different.
It is different because architectural design
doesn’t act upon our body in a mechanical way.
It acts through the nervous system.
How our nervous system is designed, the function,
the real function of the nervous system, is to continuously adapt the inner world
of your body to the external world.
So any external stimuli, or external situation is going to
rearrange your body, to create something inside of you.
I asked the students to choose
which contemporary building they were thinking
was the most representative of their continent.
The Europeans chose this one in Barcelona
and the Asian students chose this building from Beijing.
Let's see the first. In the first what you can see is that
it has very nice colors and a very nice texture on the outside.
At night it is even more bright,
a very outstanding beauty.
How was this result achieved?
It was achieved by putting, instead of windows everywhere,
blind panels, colored blind panels
and a grid of glass all around the building.
But let's see what happens then from the inside.
If you have a lot of blind panels and small windows here and there
it becomes quite dark, with little space
and if you see a window from a close distance, what you see is
that it is that big, and that deep and with some grid in front.
Not different from a jail, for example.
You can wonder how happy your nervous system will be to live all day long
and to work all day long, in a place like this.
When I visited this building it was not possible to enter
because it was still under construction
But if you go to Chicago there is the Sears tower
where by paying you can go to the last floor where there is what is called the "Skydeck"
which is basically a glass terrace on the void.
You can stand there on the edge and it is very exciting...
for the first five minutes... (laughing)
So imagine to stay in this kind of excitement all day long.
For the nervous system of course it is more powerful if you see the void under you,
but because you have a memory, in some way you know
you are over the void, even if you are not seeing at the moment,
just because you have seen it before.
This was interesting...
at the entrance of a museum there were some archeological findings on the bottom.
This was less than two meters high
and it was interesting to see how people reacts.
How the nervous system of people reacts to this kind of situations.
Couples were coming in
and women were going directly on the side.
Men instead made a couple of steps to show their ... (laughing)
and then they joined the woman on the side.
Well, men and women share the same nervous system and even a two meters height
is constructed by default (in our nervous system) as a signal of danger
You don't like to stay on the void.
In the past the challenge for designers was
to do something esthetically pleasurable.
Today, because of the environmental emergency, the challenge is
to keep doing things which are esthetically pleasurable
but also environmentally sustainable.
Maybe in the future
the challenge for designers will be
to do things that are esthetically pleasurable
environmentally sustainable and
neurologically sustainable.
The paradox, or the situation we are in, is that we are here
in the third millennium and we are wearing
shoes which are not made for us: they are made for Pinocchio,
we are sitting on chairs which are not made for us: they are made for Pinocchio ... again,
and we are living and working in buildings
that ignore how our nervous system works.
Maybe in the future design can help us. Thanks...