Sedley Place’s school chair proves popular

Following the launch of the untippable Max chair last month, design consultancy Sedley Place has announced that it will be developing a complete school range.

The idea for the chair came from former maths teacher Tom Wates, after he had to keep telling his pupils off for leaning back in their chairs, and now the range will include the Flow stool and Tog desk.

Alongside independent designer Justin Bayliss, who played a technical role in modeling the design, Sedley Place helped Wates to develop the chair designs and also designed the website for his company, Don’t Lean Back.

Sedley Place also designed the exhibition stand for the chairs to be shown at The Education Show 2008 at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre from 28 February to 1 March.

Matthias Felsch, product designer at Sedley Place, says, ‘The design itself is fairly simple. We moved the bottom part of the legs further back so that it is harder for children to tip back.’

The chairs’ backs and seats are made from Polypropylene and the legs are made from steel tubes and stop pupils rocking back and forth and falling off their chairs.

The chairs are available in four sizes and colours: blue, green, red and grey. So far, 1200 orders have been made through word of mouth alone.

For more information see

Hide Comments (4)Show Comments (4)
  • Simon Dennehy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I refer to the article on the “Untippable Max chair” for schools and am concerned about what it promotes and what it is trying to achieve.
    I am currently finishing off an M.A with the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland, and my project is entitled “The design of School Furniture for Primary School Children”. I have consulted extensively with ergonomists, psychologists, and physiologists, and they are all in agreement with the idea of having “more” dynamic sitting in the school environment.
    This letter is not meant to endorse my design methodology or final design, but what I have learned from doing a rather large amount of research is that the more restricted the student becomes during prolonged sitting, the worse for their health in both the long and short term.
    Poor sitting postures are linked with an extraordinarily long list of side effects. It should be noted that the mainstream view of proper sitting, i.e. sitting at ninety degrees, is now thought to be incorrect and harmful. In my study, I have come across some horrendous seating and desk designs aimed specifically at schools, that do nothing but cause discomfort and pain to the students due to their cheap and crude use of materials and improper sizes often, it would appear, to suit cost.
    It has been widely accepted that (the majority of) young children in primary education are at their peak in terms of body function, posture and self healing. As they grow, they generally lose their ability to repair damage caused to their spine and neck, meaning that damage done over time accumulates and leads to long term damage, such as lower back pain.
    I have found from both research and anecdotal evidence that by introducing children to poor task sitting from an early age merely serves to train them into their bad habits. We are teaching them to accept a poor ergonomic position without movement or “fidgeting”. This increases spinal loading and decreased circulation, comfort, lung capacity, stomach and back muscle development, etc… They basically become oblivious to the harm.
    I find it difficult to see what the “Untippable Max chair” is offering rather than to restrict the students further in their movement. What is needed in a new generation of school furniture is a “suitable” design and inclusion of adjustability features that by nature entice the students into the recommended sitting posture while performing their reading, writing, or art practice tasks. Why is movement deemed to be so disruptive that a chair whose main function is to restrict the student further is required? Children, barring a few, generally move and fidget as a sign that they are trying to make themselves more comfortable. Leaning backwards from time to time on a seat is recommended by many office chair manufacturers. This action allows the weight load on the inter-vertebral disks caused by static sitting to shift, and thus increases satisfaction, comfort and well-being of its users. Why then did the company, who quote on their website, “The chair supports excellent ergonomic posture” not create a chair that makes it safer to lean backwards, thus accommodating the students obvious need to do so.
    Kids are incredibly adept at adjusting themselves into better positions. It is partly because of poorly designed furniture that we see so many students slouching, stretching and leaning backwards. Instead of “reducing the 7000 accidents that occur in our UK schools every year” this chair would appear to instead, contribute to the global pandemic of illnesses associated with poor posture.
    If my views seem rather harsh, I apologise, but I really feel that if any designs are to be recognised for their ingenuity and integrity especially in the education sector, they should be of good design, that can stand up to scrutiny, and should be beneficial to both the students and teachers alike. I find it really hard to believe that the suggested approach put forward by DLB Ltd does this. ”

    Yours Sincerely,
    Simon Dennehy

  • John November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    In response to Simon’s post about the new “Don’t Lean Back” chair I find it interesting to see someone challenging the concept that reducing the ability for a child to tip back on the legs of a chair – placing themselves at risk of falling backwards and causing injury, possibly to others too, whilst also creating a distraction from the lesson – is a half-hearted attempt at creating better learning environments in Schools. I agree that whilst the chair majors on the inability to tip past 5cm, I know from speaking with the designer that ergonomic suitability was also a considerable factor in the design. Awareness of the risk created through poor suitability of education furniture to each child as they grow is a current hot topic with the Government initiative for “Building Schools for the Future programme. Simon, I would be interested in hearing more about your research. Post back if you would like to discuss this more.

  • Simon Dennehy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    John, thanks for replying to this post, and apologies for not responding sooner. I’d love to discuss my research with you at some point in time.
    My argument with the untippable chair, is similar to the argument I have with most school furniture solutions that I have seen: they are bad for students. They cause harm, and something needs to be done about it. That said, there are some companies producing products such as “Q-learn” which focus on more appropriate work solutions for students, and I believe that inspiration should now start coming from products like this.

    With this in mind, if a new type of seat and desk combination is required in the market, then surely a company should focus its design and development towards improving the working posture of students. Research will show that using a horizontal work surface for the purpose of reading and writing, combined with traditional ninety degree sitting is simply inefficient and harmful. This is published and has been well documented. Excessive neck and back strain occur when a student tries to read and write on furniture like this. It is unfortunate that as a result of the failings of the standards for school seating that otherwise unacceptable furniture is now classifiable as ergonomic.

    I have found that it is partly because of these uncomfortable working conditions that the students often lean back in the first place, in order to relieve the stresses and strains that have built up in their spine. They fidget, stand up, move around, tip their chairs forward, to the side and backward in order to avoid sitting. I’m sure that some of this behaviour is linked to disruption in classrooms and I have no doubt that less students will fall backwards from their seats because of this chair design. I question however, whether the furniture will enhance the posture of the students and alleviate the effects of long term sitting. I don’t question the ingenuity of incorporating an anti tipping device into the chair’s design, and I’m sure that the chair is engineered to all of the specifications and regulations.

    I have just tested a final design concept in schools in Ireland and am now concentrating on constructing a final thesis and models for presentation. The design incorporates a new seat, with height adjustment and a more favourable seat pan design along with a desk which I hope answers the design brief of being better for both the student and environment. If you or anybody would like to contact me, my email address is My work will be on exhibit from June 6th in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin

  • Aviva Gans, PT MS November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I was searching for information and research to help me make a presentation to the school district where I work about having teachers promote good posture in the classroom. I would be interested in some of the research sited. I personally agree that children would do better in dynamic seating that also promotes good posture. Right now we use cushion/wedges and inflated discs for our special education students. But the design of most classroom seating leaves a lot to be desired. Any references you have found would be helpful.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles