Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Studies suggest too much sitting is killing us in the form of obesity, type 2 diabetes and maybe even cancer.

Israeli urban furniture designer Neil Nenner’s new “Punctuation Marks” exhibition at SAGA TLV in Jaffa reveals his answer to reducing both sitting time and seating volume.

A graduate of Israel’s renowned Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, where he now lectures, and a master’s student in Industrial Design at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Nenner plays with familiar shapes and minimalizes them until they nearly disappear.

“The whole exhibition is a critique of the culture of buying bigger and more. People buy bigger seating so they can sit and watch their bigger TVs while eating more and more,” Nenner, 38, tells ISRAEL21c.

“I tried to design a chair that will function very well, supporting your body, but at the same time demanding you use more muscles as you sit. A small stool with two 4-centimer metal slats is like sitting on a tree branch or a stone in nature. It functions as a chair, but it’s not as comfortable as a chair.”

Therefore you’d spend less time sitting in it.

“We need less, and we need to sit less and consume less,” Nenner says. “My designs are not just about having a more contemporary interior but about filling a need. Of course, each piece I make – each chair, bench, stool, barstool and easy chair — has to be beautiful.”

Neil Nenner’s shelves, bench and sled. Photo by Shachar Fleischmann
Neil Nenner’s shelves, bench and sled. Photo by Shachar Fleischmann

Ironically, because they are handmade in his Ramat Gan studio and are not meant to be mass produced, Nenner’s steel-rod chairs cost more, not less, than seating sold in furniture stores. One piece recently was sold at the Palais Dorotheum gallery auction house in Vienna.

“It’s a conversation piece. It’s like a painting more than a product,” Nenner says.

In Israel, the chairs range between ₪1,500 and ₪4,000 at SAGA and at Nenner’s studio. They are also available at 19 Greek Street Furniture & Interiors in London, though the price is much higher due to shipping and handling costs.

SAGA is adjacent to the Jaffa Flea Market on Rav Pinkhas Street and is open Sunday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. Nenner’s show runs through January 7, 2016.

Neil Nenner and Lior Yamin sitting on the One-Line Stool and Two-Notes Chair. Photo by Shachar Fleischmann
Neil Nenner and Lior Yamin sitting on the One-Line Stool and Two-Notes Chair. Photo by Shachar Fleischmann

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