It's possible the most contested real estate in the entire world is broken up into two-inch wide strips, upholstered, and then placed between seats on airplanes. The armrest. The precious, precious armrest. But who gets to use it? You, or that bastard to your side? This extremely clever design solves this problem.
The trick, of course, is that there's a pretty limited amount of space between airplane seats and having two armrests, or even one wide enough to accommodate two arms, just isn't possible, well, at least outside of first class. Hong Kong-based designer James Lee saw this problem and solved it, with the novel Paperclip armrest.
The fundamental idea is familiar to anyone who's been to an ultra-dense city like Tokyo, or maybe shared a tiny room with a sibling: if there's not much space on the ground, build up. That's essentially what the Paperclip armrest is: a bunk armrest.
There's the standard location and size armrest there, sure, but the armrest itself curves up and back on itself to form an upper second armrest. Such a simple idea, and so clever. One passenger or lecture hall listener or cult member takes the lower one, and the one next to them has the upper armrest all to themselves. Two arms rested in the space of one!
This works because, as they remind us on their website:
In fact, our arms are flexible and can easily adapt to different heights: the forearm pivots around the shoulder joint, while swinging the elbow forward also raises it.
... which, for those of us familiar with arms and their operation, seems to check out. Go ahead and take a moment to confirm.
Paperclip Design is planning to make variants of the design available (or possibly license the fundamental design concept) to any application where people are crammed into seats close to each other.
Hopefully we'll see these on planes soon. In the meantime, I'll stick to my preferred method of coating my forearms in bacon grease.