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Evolving furniture design


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The Top 10 Office Task Chairs

Today’s sprout is office task chairs! Anyone in the office furniture industry, or looking to purchase a new high end office chair knows there is no shortage of options here. Gone are the days of the big heavy wood and high back leather beasts. The new sleek mesh styles are defined typically by a range of high tech features, and extreme engineered comfort for long days of getting the job done.

It’s known that different people fall in love with different task chairs for a variety of reasons. Some common decision making themes are obvious; aesthetics, optional features, material and fabric selections, adjustability, and of course COMFORT! Some of the lesser known factors that go into choosing these chairs we sit in every day at work are determined by accountants and budgets. Unfortunately terms heard all too frequently during furniture planning for new large office spaces are price point and lead times.

If the average office jockey spends a good percentage of their work day in their chair, that could be almost 20% of their life, only second to the relationship formed with your mattress, which is recommended you spend 33% of your life on. I would venture to say you should be sitting in something that makes you happy, comfortable, maybe even form a bond with. Now if you take into consideration all the information, research, and white papers done on ergonomics in the workplace (feel free to google “your office chair is killing you”), the chair you sit in every day may be one of the biggest life decisions you can make!!

Many of these factors were taken into account when rounding off the top 10 list. With over 7 years both designing and selling office furniture, I have sat in literally hundreds of these task chairs to arrive at these opinions. Along the way I have even managed to find a few favorites that help keep the bean counters happy without sacrificing quality or design. Enjoy, and if your office is filled with any of these, consider thanking your CFO 🙂

#10 – Gunlocke Attract

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The Attract chair is as well built as it is sexy. The chair has a very solid feel when you sit in it or roll it. It is smooth and fluid. I chose this version for the photo because I love the way the arm accents the overall curves of the chair. This line also offers an adjustable arm and comes in a myriad of upholstery options. The back can be done as upholstered or in various mesh colors, which I personally think detract from its high end timeless aesthetic. Black leather and chrome, what could be more classy than that? With its thin and sleek, sexy curves, a woman in a slinky black dress might be a reasonable personification.

Learn more here: Attract

#9 – Hon – Ignition Chair

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The Hon ignition is a comfortable, well designed task chair that just works at a reasonable price point. Although I’ve shown this chair in the mesh back version, I actually prefer sitting in the upholstered back version of this particular chair. The Ignition can be upgraded or purchased as the most basic model when it comes to features, but has all the available options you could want from various tilt mechanisms to seat pan sliders. One feature I really enjoyed on this chair is the arm height adjustment. It’s a button under the arm pad, and it’s very simple to find, use, and gives back just enough pressure to feel solid when used. The chair can be fitted with hundreds of fabric options to fit any office decor, and some are even on a quick ship program, making this chair quick and easy to get delivered. This chair falls into the category of a great all around chair and won’t break a company’s budget when buying large quantities.

Learn more here: Ignition

#8 – The walking desk

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Ok, so the walking desk isn’t really a task chair at all, rather an alternative to circumvent all the issues proposed with task chairs completely. However, I don’t want to overlook this interesting concept. The walking desk, although a rather new trend, is gaining quite a bit of traction recently (ba dum tshh) It’s no secret that America’s health is in question, all you need to do is turn on the news to be slammed with where we stand internationally when it comes to obesity, and related disease. The idea of walking while working has merit. Now I understand this is not appropriate for most professions to  use all day every day, but with the addition of a height adjustable desk, it can be used occasionally during the day. This could be a nice option for the hour phone conference, or other task that affords the ability to walk while doing so.

#7 – Steelcase – Leap

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An oldie but very much deserving of this spot on the list. The Leap chair seems like it has been around forever, originally designed by Steelcase and famous industrial design firm IDEO, this chair shows the amount of R&D that went into creating it. The chair bends and moves in all different directions allegedly to mimic the movements of a human spine. All I know is that when you sit in one, high or low back, it is sure evident that they did their homework. The ergonomics and intuitive controls are balanced with a classic shape and thick upholstery that just might cure your case of the mondays!

Learn more here: Leap

#6 – Herman Miller – Aeron Chair

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Come on, you knew this one had to make the list. Now many may be surprised that it only landed at #6. Quite honestly I don’t find this chair to be as comfortable as all the hype would like you to believe. It is, however, the godfather of ergonomics when it comes to the task chair. The Aeron chair was designed by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf. In 1994, this revolutionized the way we sit. It had unparalleled adjustability and introduced a mesh back, mesh seat, and adjustable lumbar. All of these changed the market for task seating and are still competitive today. Not only did this design reinvent what people are now expecting out of research and development, they patented this chair so well that other manufacturers still to this day need to come up with ingenious ways to circumvent patent infringement. This particular version shown is spruced up with a polished finish on the frame and base. The chair really is a rolling piece of sculpture.

Learn more here: Aeron

#5 – Stylex – Sava chair

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Introduced at NeoCon 2010, it is no wonder this chair won so many awards. It is elegant and stylish, yet engineered and built solid as a rock. I’ve had the pleasure of demo’ing one of these for an extended sit and all I have to say is wow. The controls are extremely intuitive and there has even been discussion of having them light up with their icons expressing functions. This chair is definitely not based on gimmicks however, this chair is engineered on years of research and development. The ergonomics are instantly understood as soon as you take that first sit. The line is designed with a conference table model that compliments the task version, as well as upholstered or full mesh versions. Sava Cvek really outdid himself when designing this piece.

Learn more here: Sava

#4 – Knoll – Life Chair

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I absolutely love this chair. It conforms to the body like no other. I think this chair was one of the first that I sat in years ago that really gave me hope that working at a desk didn’t have to be back breaking. I worked in a Life chair for years and didn’t realize I should have been going into work and thanking the company’s principal every day for allowing me the pleasure. Now that I look at this chair with a little more of a critical design eye, I realize how beautiful and elegant the form of this really is. The base of this chair is flatter and at less of an angle than most but I find it brilliant! If you happen to be in an office and see this chair, kick the person out and try it; you’ll understand the visceral pull it has while the user is asking you to please get out of their chair. (note: don’t do this if on an interview… unless it’s for a furniture design position, they’d understand )

Learn more here: Life

#3 – Humanscale – Freedom chair with headrest

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Oh what have we here? Is it a seat out of an alien spacecraft? Maybe a chair from a NASA experiment? Nope, it’s just Humanscale’s Freedom chair, and although it may look over the top techy, it is unbelievably comfortable. This may be the one chair on the list that could dissuade your productivity. You may just want to throw your feet up on the desk and take a nap. The way that this chair bends and moves to cradle you is unlike anything else. This is yet another chair where the research on ergonomics has not only developed this chair to another level, it has produced studies that have upped the entire chair game for every manufacturer. Are we seeing a trend here people? R&D equals an amazing end result..  It has all the features to keep you typing away, yet takes you emotionally to a place more reminiscent of your favorite recliner at home. My favorite feature of this chair is without a doubt the headrest. I am a big supporter of head rests on high end task chairs, and so few have been able to do it as perfect as the Freedom chair. Buy a few for your home theater, er office space, and be Free!

Learn more here: Freedom

#2 – Allsteel – Acuity Chair

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The Acuity was designed by famous industrial design firm Continuum Italia. This alone should begin to explain why it’s so ergonomically comfortable. The amount of research and design that went into this chair is just astonishing. It really does fit a wide range of body types with various adjustments, one favorite being the seat pan slider. It shortens or lengthens the seat depth for different leg lengths. The most interesting part of this chairs design is the structure and performance of the back. The mesh is tensioned in such a way that when you sit back in the chair, it wraps around your hips and creates lumbar support through the tensile pull of the mesh fibers, rather than having a physical lump of foam for a lumbar support. As you recline the lumbar region of the back becomes further pronounced due to the bend forced into the flexible plastic back frame. Another design feature that just takes this chair light years above the competition is the fact that the back accepts a removable jacket. This can be stunningly sewn from many choices of leather to match the seat and arm pads, or can be done in a contrasting fabric, to give the chair a pop of color. When no jacket is being used, the mesh back can be done in multiple mesh colors as well as plastic frame colors, to really change the overall look. The Acuity is offered in a Task or Conference version (fixed arms) and starts out around $700.

Learn more here: Acuity

#1 – Interstuhl – Silver

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And the winner is…. The Silver. Sit in this chair for two seconds and I promise you will, not only never want to stand back up, you will instantly feel like the most important CEO in the world. If a chair could make you work equivalently to how you feel, this chair would increase productivity by 1000%

The aesthetic is undeniably incredible. It is modeled in a way that sleek and high tech meet lavish comfort. The silver is designed with features such as intuitive controls, integrated headrest, a fold out crank; to adjust the chairs action to match the specific user precisely, and second to none padding. Interstuhl has designed an entire line up to compliment this chair including a mid back, low back version, side chairs, and even a matching table or foot stool. This ensures that your strict modern office design is cohesive across the board.

The Silver really is in a class all by itself. I can’t stress how amazing this chair feels from a comfort standpoint, as well as craftsmanship and quality. Interstuhl has definitely recognized this when positioning it in the market with a list price of $10,115.00 (brushed finish with premium leather upholstery) When your eyes refocus and you can catch your breath after that little startle, Yes that is correct… Ten Thousand dollars… While this chair will only work for a very certain niche customer, I urge you to visit a showroom and try one. You will instantly know why I placed it at the top.

Learn more here: Silver

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Organic lounging

Loopita by Victor Aleman

I love the organic flow and natural feel of this piece.
The design is inviting and comforting both in material choice and spacial density.
The piece offers various options for social interaction.
If two were to occupy opposing sides of a curl this would offer a warm collaborative environment, where if two were to relax on separate loops, privacy is organically implied.

Lounge concept from Anitdiva

This piece takes the classic sectional planform and tweaks it into a contemporary sculpture that scares the stuffing out of throw pillows.

Nouveau Lounge by Kate McCreary

The side profile is incredible. It is unpredictable yet inviting. The interaction of hard geometry with asymmetrical organic lines creates a work of art you can’t help but want to sprawl out on.

Oh Void in corian by Ron Arad
No one knows how to walk the fine line between geometric and organic better than Ron Arad. His famous work named “Oh Void” has seen many imaginings in various mediums and processes such as carbon fiber, acrylic and silicone. This version, milled out of Corian, highlights its curves and sectional geometries through individual layers evoking a feeling of growth and nature, similar to that of rings in a tree or ripples in a pond.
Wave by Royal Botania
Nothing creates a certain emotional response to lounge furniture quite like the hammock does. A certain feeling of calm, solitude, or relaxation is typically tied to the thought of lounging in one. No other lounge furniture has the same distinction. Take this piece called “Wave” by Royal Botania; A new rendition of the hammock classic, it elegantly embodies peaceful recuperation from a hectic world.
 
The Gladis lounge by Aqua Creations
These pieces introduce that beanbag chair element with a mature elegance for relaxing in an upscale environment.
Roller Sun by Karim Rashid
The simple changes in depth add a modern spin to a classic lounge profile.
Archetto by Sybarite and Marzorati Ronchetti
A lounge sculpture that screams amorphous organic while allowing the user to define how they lounge.
The Sensation lounge by Alexander Christoff
This rendered concept is just about at the extreme of organic ergonomics. I’m intrigued by it’s potential comfort.
How about this amazing concept?
The Zen Recliner by Jay Hung and Paul Fong might be just what you need after a hard day at work.
Cloe designed by MYYOUR
Lounging is always better with friends!
This beautifully shaped poolside chair denotes how a simple elegance can be enhanced when used in multiples.
Although I’m sure I’ll dedicate another entire sprout on occasional side tables, I really like these too!


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First Sprout

For RawFern’s official first exploration it is only fitting to pay homage to everything the blog’s name represents.

The delicate, relaxing, even visually intoxicating nature of the fern is conveyed through it’s organic symmetry, both in the way the individual fern grows and designs itself, as well as the fern’s ability to tesselate beautifully when multiplied on a forest floor.

Today’s exploration will delve into a few pieces of lounge furniture, focusing on those with an organic design, and an ability to transform an environment through use of shape, material, or function.