Peter Opsvik Norwegian furniture designer – ergonomic chairs

Peter Opsvik is a Norwegian furniture designer. 

Education | Biography

In the 1960s, studied ergonomics under Ulrich Burandt and in design schools in Bergen and Oslo. In the 1970s, in Britain and Volkwangschule filr Kunstgewerbe, Essen. 1965-70, he was a designer at the Tandberg Radio Factory. Subsequently, he collaborated with Hans Christian Mengshoel on the development of ergonomic seating. From 1972, he was a freelance designer. 

Children's chair Sitti by Peter Opsvik and Chair Balans by Opsvik and Svein Gysrud
Children’s chair Sitti by Peter Opsvik and Chair Balans by Opsvik and Svein Gysrud


Along with Oddvin Rykkens and Svein Gusrud, he was an innovator in the ergonomic stool seating popular in the early 1980s. Opsvik tempered strict functionalism with ergonomics – a human-centred design methodology – in his office furniture designs for the manufacturer Håg.

Tripp-trapp stool

Stokke Fabrikker produced his 1972 Tripp-trapp stool-chair. Opsvik is best known for his widely published 1981 Balans Variable ergonomic stool for Stokke. Opsvik based his approach on observation and rejected single static solutions by creating ergonomic designs that consider a range of motions. The Tripp-trapp stool achieved a massive export success for Stokke Fabrikker. By 2004 Stokke Fabrikker sold almost 3 million units. 

Tripp Trapp® CHAIR
Tripp Trapp® CHAIR

Balans Chair

The Balans chair was constructed by Opsvik and was sometimes referred to as the ‘kneeling chair’ and was recently used as a computer chair. The sitter must fold his/her legs and rest mainly on their knees in this chair. This unique position’s practical benefit is to take advantage of the biomechanical advantages of dramatically lowering the thighs to the spine while still allowing people to sit at traditional tables and desks.

Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair Monochrome
Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair Monochrome


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Cranz, G., Cress, J., & Abbate, J. S. (1998). The chair rethinking culture, body, and design. W. W. Norton & Company.

Nelson, K. E., & Cabra, R. (2004). New Scandinavian design. Chronicle Books.

Polster, B. (1999). Design directory Scandinavia. Universe.

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