The overall objectives of this project were:
- To provide a rapid, low cost, one-stop shop assessment of comfort for the SME furniture manufacturer, to aid them in the design and manufacture of furniture with added value, to help meet the consumers requirements.
- To provide a means, for the first time, of evaluating the comfort properties of finished chairs in a range of forms, such as high-backed medical chairs and office chairs, in the laboratory and so enable design features such as seat height and back height to be optimised in a cost-effective and speedy manner.
- To provide industry with a valuable tool for the measurement of comfort; which will ensure its survival and growth, and address the threats that exist from outside Europe.
- To help address the problems of the ageing population, and in particular, the associated health issues.
- To enable furniture manufacturers and suppliers to offer differentiated products with appropriate service performance and high levels of customer acceptance.
The project has researched individual perceptions of comfort through a series of trials and studies incorporating retailers, occupational therapists, furniture manufacturers, residents of residential homes, retired subjects and subjects of a normal working age. The trials have been carried out in three countries (Spain, Ireland and England) in order to provide information on differing climates and anthropometrical measurements.
The key factors are taken from the results of these studies, producing a numerical scale, with the most important factors being given a higher statistical weighting in the development of the final draft of the index. The index should be capable of distinguishing between varying chairs in order to assess which chairs are the most comfortable.
The index works by asking a series of questions, designed to identify individual aspects of comfort and/or discomfort about the chair being assessed. The areas of the chair are broken down into sub sections of seat properties, back rest, arms etc. A series of questions in each subsection will then identify several aspects that can be used to give the overall comfort properties. In addition, the chairs are inspected by an expert to asses the moisture distribution properties of both the materials and the design of the furniture. The information is entered into a spreadsheet that calculates a numerical value for comfort using a series of weighting values determined through the work of the project.
The product of the project, the Furniture Comfort Index, will be exploited by the partners of the project as both a marketing tool and also to increase the comfort of their products in order to increase market share and value.
Duration: from 01/02/2001 to 31/07/2003
Project funded by the European Community under the ‘Competitive and Sustainable Growth’ Programme (1998-2002)
Pressure distribution obtained from a person seated on a specific seat.
Fabric with sensors and equipment used to measure pressure distribution.
A.J. Way and Company Limited (coordinator) | The Foam Company (TFC) | PELKO Limited | Neeson Brothers Ltd | Kyoto Futons Ltd | Dinamica Muebles SL | ICOA SA | SATRA Technology Centre | University of Limerick | AIDIMA