People sit for many reasons. They sit to rest, to work, to eat, to draw, to talk, to listen, to wait. Each situation (pardon the pun!) involves a totally different set of values in designing chairs functionally adapted to these various purposes.
The story goes that George Nelson didn’t want visitors to linger in his office at Fortune magazine. In a manner typical of his particular genius, he devised a solution to this quandary in the form of a slatted bench running along one wall. The slats certainly held aesthetic value, but, more significantly, they served as a kind of discomfort-based timer—overstay your welcome, and the bench would begin to tell your posterior it was time to move along.
The example of the bench demonstrates an effective articulation and manipulation of the criteria for seating Nelson would lay out some 20 years later in Herman Miller’s 1964 catalog. Function and purpose, human anatomy, the psychology of the occasion, and physical properties all come together to solve a particular problem—in this case, Nelson’s distaste for unscheduled interruptions.