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The Bersila workstation: A new school furniture concept


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Zalay, AA 2013 , 'The Bersila workstation: A new school furniture concept', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In a period of globalization bersila practice has gradually begun to change as the
modern form of seating has been introduced into the home, the school and the
business environment and a more western approach to seating has been adopted.
This research project investigates the developing of a body of furniture that takes into
account the typical Malaysian sitting position called bersila or the cross-legged sitting
position, which is common in most Asian cultures. The aim of this project is to foster
the continued use of bersila particularly amongst young Malays. The early formative
years of schooling were chosen for the development of a versatile workstation design
to facilitate the bersila sitting position, identified as the Bersila Workstation:
Kindergarten and the Bersila Workstation: Primary.
Although chairs have been marketed to suit the Yoga sitting position, a kindergarten
and a year one workstation to facilitate the bersila position is without precedent. In
order to ensure that the workstation can be used in early schooling, a number of
design criteria must be applied. These include:
• Suitability for low cost mass production
• The use of economic materials
• Robust construction
• Ease of manoeuver and stability
• Safe handling by young people
• Flexible use to suit various classroom activities
• Flat packing to aid distribution.
The significance of the project is its tangible contribution to Malaysian culture.
The bersila sitting position is a part of Malaysian and other Asian cultural identity as
well as having ergonomic and life style benefits. In a world where globalization
promotes conformity the early encouragement of bersila sitting in school will assist in
encouraging the practice. This project outcome is an example of finding a design solution to meet
cultural and lifestyle needs. The tangible results are two workstations that are suitable
to the growing needs of kindergarten and primary school students. The furniture ideas
have been tested in Malaysia and Australia schools, and the outcomes of the research
demonstrate that the research project has the capacity to be introduced widely in the
Malaysian education system at the same time as creating a versatile and flexible
seating system at an important formative time in children’s development.
Malaysia is situated at the centre of a billion strong populations in a group of
nations with a climate of economic growth due in part to the rising middle class. This
indicates a demand for larger furnished homes. There is status implied in furniture
and particularly in seating. However these populations also have long standing
traditions that include the bersila seating position which suggests a potential to cater
for both bersila and Western sitting. This project heralds a direction for the region in
furniture design that combines both functional and cultural criteria.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Zalay, AA
Keywords: Bersila, school, furniture, school workstation, cross-legged furniture concept
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