I was searching for images of seating bucks–the prototyping rigs that furniture designers use to work out chair ergonomics–when Google led me astray. Instead I stumbled across a special seat design for the Milwaukee Bucks.
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Though the team was eliminated by the Heat in the playoffs this year, it turns out they’re #1 in the NBA for advanced seating design–ironically, incorporating heat (as well as height adjustability). In their home stadium of Fiserv Forum, the Bucks have unusual chairs created by the Figueras Group, a manufacturer of specialty seating designs. As the company states:
“[The custom chairs] are feature-rich, offering heated seats and backs, with independent variable controls to accommodate each individual player’s preferences. Each chair is electronically adjustable for height, allowing each player to tailor the seated position to best suit his body size. These chairs are easily moved on and off court for reconfiguration of the facility.”
Here’s how they work:
The design didn’t come out of nowhere, but was the brainchild of the Bucks’ Director of Performance, Dr. Troy Flanagan, whose goal was to “enhance on-court performance by maintaining elevated body temperature and proper anthropometrics when players are seated,” according to the Figuearas Group. And as ESPN reports, it took an entire team to realize the design: “These sleek, matte black seats took three years, 12 University of Colorado students, a New Zealand research group and six prototypes to perfect.”
Unsurprisingly, the seats are only provided for the home team at Fiserv; the visiting team gets regular chairs. And other teams looking to outfit their stadiums with the Figueras chairs will run into a licensing issue: “Because the Bucks own the design of the seats,” ESPN writes, “other NBA teams will have to go through them if they want to outfit their arenas with similar chairs.”