University of the Arts London
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Ele Chair

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posted on 2024-04-29, 12:18 authored by Lorraine Gamman, Adam Thorpe

Developed by Senior Furniture Designer, Rock Galpin who participated in the co-design sessions at HMP Standford Hill. This rotationally moulded plastic chair greatly improves on the ergonomics, comfort and stacking capability of the current plastic prison chair. It incorporates a cushion that can be used as either a backrest or seat cushion.

  • Material: Toughened Grade Polypropylene (PP)
  • Manufacturing Method: Rotational Moulding

*This furniture proposal was not selected for prototyping and testing by HMPPS.


We have discussed how the current plastic in-cell chair is one of the most disliked items by prisoners. It achieves a high level of safety by being difficult to weaponise and use as a ligature, but it is uncomfortable and prisoners either don't like to or cannot sit in it for extended periods of time because it is undersized and has poor ergonomics.

"For me it would be the plastic chair. When you sit in it, the edges – if you’re chunky like me – they aren’t comfortable. [The seat] sinks in the middle. It's like you were sitting on a toilet. The way they curve, you can feel it sticking into the back of your legs."

-Prisoner commenting on the cell furniture he dislikes the most

​Prison Industries likes the current plastic in-cell chair because it can be quickly manufactured, but it is disliked because the chair is not stackable – essentially a hollow object – making transporting and storing chairs inefficient. As a result, even though the chair could be recycled and granulated in the production of new plastic chairs, HMP chooses not to because the benefits of granulating do not outweigh the drawbacks of transport (e.g. fuel and emissions from lorries).

Final Design

A New Chair Proposal

Senior Furniture Designer, Rock Galpin's playful Ele Chair (from Elephant) design improves upon comfort, ergonomics, transport and storage, and offers two different seating options by using a clever rotatable foam cushion.

Using a method of plastic fabrication called rotational moulding, the Ele Chair produces two identical chairs from a single rotational mould by splitting the moulded part along a seam (see top left picture). With design modifications, this chair could also be injection moulded.​

Insights from the co-design workshops revealed that prisoners would appreciate a chair with multiple height options for relaxation and desk work. The Ele chair provides this adjustment through a cushion that doubles as a reclined backrest. We recommend how this foam cushion could be manufactured in the 'Mattress Study'

Another obvious feature of this chair is its stackability, which greatly improves storage and allows for twelve chairs to be transported per stillage.

Technical Specifications

Storage and Transport

  • Chairs per stillage = 12
  • Stackablility: very stackable


  • Toughened Grade Polypropylene (PP) Plastic


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    Design Against Crime



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