MoDiP has recently added a Hokki
stool to the collections, donated by the
designer John Harding who graduated from AUB in 1991 having studied HND Industrial Design.
has been designed as a flexible,
physical learning aid to counter traditional views that educational seating
should be rigid, without any form for free movement. With supporting research
suggesting that stillness of the body for long periods can actually inhibit
concentration, the convex base encourages the body to move in all directions
leading to healthier sitting, reduced tension and mental fatigue.
This is John’s story about how he developed
Katherine Pell, Museum Collections Officer.
A seven year journey
The inspiration for the Hokki
began with a cedar wood rocking stool I designed
as part of a range of garden furniture, launched in 2003 at the 100% Design
exhibition in London. As I became
more aware of the ergonomic and cognitive advantages of active seating, I
thought about developing a new lightweight, more commercial version of the
stool for children and adults alike.
The first step forward from the solid cedar stools was the design of a
hollow version made from plywood tube with a removable lid for storage. The
next major development was to focus on making this a product for children, so I
changed material from wood to polyethylene (PE) plastic, with a non-slip rubber
base. Polyethylene’s chemical and structural properties
lent themselves to the small volume rotational moulding
process used to produce fifty stools for school trials. I took out
liability insurance and selected ten different primary schools who ‘tested’ the stool over a period of
six months. Having received praise from both children, teachers and parents, I
was convinced that this was a genuinely beneficial product but importantly
there could be a market for it.
Having approached and
pitched unsuccessfully to virtually all of the UK school furniture manufacturers,
I paid a marketing director to help me produce a one page “Product CV”. This featured
information such as images, a comprehensive description and the financial
opportunities the product could offer. I sent it out to a number of European
companies recommended to me by the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA)
and was subsequently contacted by Vereinigte
, a school and office
furniture supplier based in Germany.
The final design saw the last development from polyethylene to
polypropylene, as this material was more suitable for volume injection moulding
, with the
in March 2010 by VS
Germany and America. Whilst it had
been through several changes in both materials and shape, the fundamental
principle always remained the same: to create a stool that rocked in all
directions, promoting better posture and providing health benefits. It's also
fun to sit on!