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PRO scoops furniture design of the year

ProKonstantin Grcic's PRO collection of chairs has won this year's Design Museum Furniture Design of the Year award, being praised for its 'state-of-the-art ergonomics and pioneering design'.

Originally designed for the educational market, PRO (manufactured by Flototto) allows movement in all directions and actively stimulates it thereby promoting healthier sitting.

'Starting to work on the chair, we tried to talk to (nearly) everyone who would have a stake in our project: kids, teachers, school janitors, procurement managers for school furniture, even insurance companies. We wanted to learn as much as we could about the characteristics of school chairs, about their production industry, and about the school furniture market,' says Grcic.

'School furniture is a very national affair. Each country not only has its own norms and regulations but also its own school furniture industry. In Germany, three-four players dominate a highly consolidated market. Without outside competition, these companies don't seem to have much pressure to innovate or implement the insights gathered in recent studies on school as a workplace.

'Recently, and as part of a general attempt to better promote public health in schools, questions of ergonomic seating and working have received much attention. The German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has recently published a thorough study called Work Place School. The study found that dynamic sitting was the most important condition for physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. This, in turn, is the premise for healthy learning. While traditional furniture encourages children to sit straight and still, dynamic sitting allows kids to frequently change posture, even to get up during class.

'PRO is implementing these findings through three design elements. First, the round seat is similar to that of a stool so that it does not prescribe a forward sitting position. Second, the slim backrest gives the torso room to move sideways. The third and most decisive design element is the backrest's distinctive S-shape. Its lower curve allows for freedom of movement and takes strain away from the lower back and pelvis. The three-dimensional shape provides for enough structural stability that the plastic shell can be produced without fiberglass reinforcement. This, incidentally, increases recycling options.'

PRO and the six other category winners will now compete for the overall Design of the Year 2014 award. The overall winner will be announced on 30 June at an event hosted by St Martins Lane London. The seven category winners, along with all of the other 69 nominated designs for 2014, are on display in an exhibition at the Design Museum until 25 August.