Swedish manufacturer Glimakra makes some very nice mobile screen walls. Shown above is their Viking line, apparently available with several panel in-fill materials.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
The Balans chair offers an alternative seating position which some find much more natural and comfortable than a conventional chair. Some with back problems will find that this posture can make desk time much more tolerable. I am not really clear on where the name came from, but it appears the original chair was invented in Norway in the 70s. It has been much copied and it seems that any Scandinavian furniture store or "Back" store has some variation on the chair.
Many of these copies are dubious in their quality, so I would not advocate anybody using one from a questionable source. Like any good task chair I would try to source one from a good manufacturer. HAG has offered a Balans style chair in the past and several online vendors still show them, however it seems to be absent from the HAG web site.
Here is the gist on the seating position. The Balans chair puts you into an upright posture, with your spine fairly vertical as if in a standing position. Because there is no backrest this is the natural posture in this chair. The knee rests support a small part of your weight, but for the most part your weight comes straight down your spine to your seat and avoids any curved spine positions as you might have while slouching in a conventional chair.
Many current task chairs offer a forward tilt position which approximates the Balans posture without the knee pads. Its also possible to assume this posture in any task chair by favoring the front of the seat pad and letting your knees drop below the seat level, with your feet folded under you. In this position your back is away from the back pad, your pelvis rotated around to a standing like orientation, and your back should be fairly straight and vertical. Whether you wish to work like this all day is moot - it offers you another position to freshen you and make you work more effectively. The forward tilt helps tremendously so look for this feature.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I think this is going to be the last HÅG chair we look at, but realize they have a lot more very interesting task chairs. If these have appealed to you they by all means delve deeper into their product line. The H09 is an interesting chair that abandons the typical shell+pad back for a prominent and adjustable lumbar pad, and in the high back versions a second adjustable neck pad.
The chair comes in three trim levels:
• The first has a fairly conventional back with the adjustable pads let into the front surface.
• The second does away with the conventional pad and covers the adjustable pads with a transparent mesh sling.
• The third upgrades the mesh to a quilted leather pad - very nice.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The Capisco is one of the most unique task chairs out there, and it predates the Aeron revolution by years. The Capsico is designed to do some things that no other task chair does, which gives it the unique form you see here.
Lets look at some of the Capisco's more interesting features.
• We'll start with the seat this time! The Capisco has a saddle like seat, meaning like a bicycle saddle with a protruding center section. What is going on here is more like a standard seat that has been cut away on each side. What this does is allow for a more relaxed half stand, half sit position when the chair is set for a higher work surface. This chair is ideal for people that like an adjustable height work surface and change the height of their desk often. Its also ideal for lab workers that may spend all their time at higher surfaces than desks.
• The back is also unique. A narrow back bad is flanked by two short armrests. In a recline these rests give you someplace to rest your elbows. But it also allows for another unique seating position - turned around with your legs straddling the back, and you chest resting on the back pad. Great for leaning over your work, another position to widen the range of possibilities, and keep you fresh in your work.
• The Capisco is available three ways - as a stool, as a chair, and as a high back chair with head rest. They also offer a non saddle seat pad version, but still with a rolled front edge that accommodates the standing sit.
• The Capisco uses HÅG's low profile base, but they also offer a foot rest accessory. A satellite footrest if you will, a small platform for you feet with its own set of castors.
The Plastolux blog continues to bring great examples of workplaces to our attention.
Concrete walls, timber trusses and wood plank roof. A couple of 10ft shipping containers for storage and space divider, and yet another example of big table desking. And for mobile accessories it looks like they have a fleet of craftsman tool boxes in cherry red!
Burnkit (funny intro page during the holidays!)
HÅG is a Norwegian chair manufacturer who has always been way ahead of the curve in offering ergonomic driven chairs. We'll look at a few of their chairs next.
a description from the HÅG site:
Do you ever wonder which sitting position is the best? It’s always the next one! An ergonomic chair is a chair that naturally follows you as you move to the next sitting position. It must obey the minor and major movements of the body and be at rest when the body requires it. When the chair follows the body it means you can concentrate on your work, at the same time as the body gets the appropriate nourishment for the active muscles. You are moving your entire body without being aware of it.
I love the way this chair offers advanced features in a no nonsense way:
• The headrest. The H05 came with a headrest option years before the recent interest in headrests!
• Swing away arms. You may notice that the arms on the chair can be swung out of the way, pivoting to the rear of the chair. My task chair has arms and I know that sometimes you just want them to be gone, they just feel like they are in the way at times. What a great thing to be able to move them away for a period of time.
• Low profile spider base. Most task chairs have a base with a great deal of rise - meaning the legs angle up to the center of the base. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you sit for a long time and seek new positions you inevitably end up putting your feet up on the legs of the base spider. With the legs sloping up like that it makes it harder to really rest your feet on them. And more often than not they finish on the spider won't hold up to this foot traffic. Well HÅG has a low profile spider that has level legs, running very close to the floor, so close in fact that they have to rise up to accommodate the caster wheel. Where they do rise up they are topped by a gridded foot rest, looks like a gas or brake pedal from your car. So their base lends itself to serving as a foot rest. Brilliant.
Friday, December 19, 2008
"Entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants, and a host of other people have chosen the coffee shop as their alternative office. The objective of the project is to find out when and why this trend has developed as well as uncovering the pro’s and con’s of using the coffee shop as an alternative to the more traditional office or home office."
Looks like a great resource for those working at cafes, thinking about ditching their office for cafe life, or perhaps launching from a cafe to a cafe like co-working arrangement. I'm adding it to my reader to follow this thread of workplace culture.
An office using the Vitra Joyn desk system spotted at Plastolux - check it out. Love those steel beams in the roof with the holes. They are sitting in Aeron chairs to boot, on some kind of steel or aluminum plate flooring - cool!
The T-Chair is not among the new generation of task chairs we've been looking at recently. Introduced by Vitra sometime around 1998-99 in the US, its based more on the classic shell+pad designs dating back to the Ergon we looked at earlier. But it contains a great deal of the advanced features we've seen in the more recent chairs, and delivered them at an affordable price.
The T-Chair may be discontinued in the US but Vitra seems to be offering it elsewhere. I'm looking into this and will clarify when I know. Lets pick through some of the T-Chair's features.
• Full contoured back. Rather than have a small back pad that adjusts vertically the T-Chair has a tall wide back that accommodates most people comfortably. Its made of a polypropylene shell which is a construction more like the plastic accessory chairs we've looked at recently. Overall its a thinner structure without the thick pad typical of earlier shell+pad chairs.
• Easy to remove and clean upholstery. The covering on both the back and the seat can be easily loosened and removed, literally thrown in the laundry to clean them. The T-Chair gets its name because from the fact that you can toss the covering into the laundry like a t-shirt.
• Multi adjust arms. The arms on the T-Chair are some of the best adjustable arms I've seen. The pads are a large oval, and they can adjust for height, and angle, allowing you to move the pad inward at either the front or back to rest your elbows on. They are also mounted on an en-centric fitting which allows the entire pad to move inward or outward while remaining in any angular position. The only downside, these are loosen/adjust/tighten fittings, no simple press button or lever.
• Forward tilt. The T-Chair included a forward tilt position for intense task work. Again I think this is an important chair feature, great for popping you out of a slouch and into a fresh seating position.
• I have to admit that I think the T-Chair just looks damn cool, so much nicer than a run of the mill two pad chair, a great shaped back gives the chair a very current profile, the funky oval arm pads are very unique, and I love the striped back fabric.
I still see the T-Chair offered by online vendors, and I'm sure there are used units out there for consumption at a bargain, so if you can't pony up for one of the fancy chairs we've looked at to date I want to point you at the T-Chair.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Its not really fair to simply call the Think chair a follow on to the Herman Miller Aeron. Yes, you can get it in a mesh back, and yes it follows the seat/back frame with suspension in place of padding model, but its doing a number of other things in a unique way. Plus its designer Glen Oliver Low has always been one of my favorite contract furnishing designers having done a bunch of great work for Vitra in the past.
Lets dig into the Think chair a bit.
• It seems we always start with looking at the seat back so why should this be any different. Yes, they have gone to a mesh back for this chair but in this case the mesh is supported by a series of "tendons" which allow the amount of support offered over the range of the backrest to differ. More support at the lumbar region, more give at the shoulders. The Think chair can also be ordered with a pad, a thin pad, still supported by the mesh and tendons underneath, but a more conventional look.
• The seat has a thin pad supported by heavier tendons. Seat depth adjustment is done by sliding the seat pad forward and back - nothing wrong with that and nothing revolutionary either.
• Arms are adjustable in the vertical, slide forward and back, and can rotate out (although there is no rotate in to support your elbows?). There is also a unique feature where by the arm pads will slide back on their own when you move tight to your desktop for close work.
• Perhaps the most interesting part of the Think chair is the undercarriage. Rather than the sets of coiled springs used by most chairs to control recline and seat tilt resistance the Think has a torsion frame fabricated from what I am guessing is some sort of spring steel. The twisting of this member is what supplies the resistance, and the support of the seat and back, doing two jobs at once. Its certainly unique and I'm eager for some first hand experience with this device.
As usual, a tremendous amount of info available at the Steelcase site, and many vendors offering the chair.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Liberty Chair is Humanscales entry into the mesh backed chair space. Its designer is Neils Diffrient, the same designer that created Humanscale's Freedom chair which although it is an advanced design it relies on fairly conventional shell+pad backs and seats. But the Liberty takes a slightly different approach on several fronts.
Lets look a some of the places where the Liberty stands out:
• The mesh back on the Liberty is different than other chairs. Typically a flexible mesh back chair requires a pad behind the mesh to provide lumbar support. The Liberty uses a non-stretch mesh which can create enough tension to provide lumbar support without a pad. The back panels are shaped by forming the mesh back out of three panels so it is not simply stretched flat across a frame. Its an interesting and unique approach.
• One of the Liberty chairs most interesting characteristics are the back supports that swoop out from under the seat and extend around the back to support the arm pads. This whole framework moves with the recline posture, with the back frame flexing a little bit more to accommodate the recline. The counterbalance is self adjusting so there is no tension adjustment for the seat back.
• The Liberty uses a gel topped seat pad as was an option on the Freedom chair, and you get the distinct sense that they don't approve of mesh seats!
• The chair has a simplified control set with only the seat height and seat depth. If you have ever tried to learn the functions of a chair with multiple adjustable settings you can understand the appeal of the Liberty here.
• Fixed arm pads do a better job of jiving with the chairs aesthetic, but adjustable arms are available and look very similar to the mechanism from the Freedom chair.
• Reccyled content - its in there. 95% recyclable too.
In an interesting post over at ShedWorking they show furniture pieces that create a more intimate environment within the open office space. This feels strangely familiar to me. Ummm, can you say cubical? Of course these look nothing like cubicles, and somehow their visual reference to a hut or shed gives them a different feeling than an office cube. The word shelter comes to mind when I look at them, somehow more about giving you the space you need more so than dividing the space that is available. Does that make any sense?
Monday, December 15, 2008
The Embody chair is Herman Miller's newest task chair design, designed by Jef Weber and Bill Stumpf who also has designed many of Herman Miller's breakthrough chairs like the Ergon, the Equa, and the Aeron (the Equa and Aeron done with Don Chadwick). It would seem that whenever Herman Miller has Bill Stumpf involved in a chair design the result breaks new ground.
Lets look at some of the Embody chair's features:
• They have taken a much different approach to the chair back with the Embody. First of all its fairly narrow, intended to support your shoulders but go no wider, its meant to allow your arms to be able to move past the chair back, giving your back support without confining your arms.
• The describe the back as an "alive" back. Instead of being a rigid padded element the back is designed to flex and follow your spine. So if you twist to reach for something the chair back will twist as well. Its a fairly interesting dynamic when you see the chair in motion. They achieve this with an interesting back design. The back consists of a flexible membrane supported at multiple contact points by a branching flexible back frame. Difficult to describe - look at the pictures of the back - it is a support structure that branches off much like a tree, with the dimension of each branch getting smaller till it terminates at a support point. The rigidity of the chair back is made variable by the dimension of the varying branches, allowing the back to give more support near the base, and be more flexible at your shoulders where you are more likely to pivot.
• The fabric covering is thin like many of the other task chairs we've looked at, and again here the pad is permeable so that the back allows air to move freely through the pad. The membrane that supports the pad is perforated to make it flexible and also to ventilate.
• Seat depth is also adjustable, but rather than a sliding pad the seat front appears to roll under taking the upholstery along with it.
• The recline position pivots the back and seat together - you will notice that the upholstery of the back and seat meet in the joint between the two. Similar to the way the seat depth rolls in ad out off the front of the chair, the recline opens up into the joint between the seat and back. The motion of the chair matches the motion between your hips and legs keeping your back supported through out the motion.
• The arms offer the usual adjustments, but its interesting to note their profile. The support of the arms favors the outside, even bulging away from the seat pad. This offers more room at the seat level so you would have no sensation of being trapped between the arms. More room to move your legs over the course of a day equals more comfort, and more productivity.
There are lots of great ideas and details in this chair. I've not sat in one yet but I look forward to it.
Chloe, a poster at WhereWeDoWhatWeDo, has used her "grandad" chair, as she calls it, as a pretty nifty two tier printer stand. Great improvisation, and we hope she has someplace else to crash with a good book!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The Celle is Herman Millers least costly post-Aeron task chair. It captures many of the features of the Aeron, the recylability of the Mirra, and offers it at a price more can afford. If you love the Aeron but can't spend that much you won't give up much in the way of comfort or function if you bought the Cell instead.
Lets look at some of the Celle's characteristics.
• The Celle can be had either in its un-upholstered transparent form, or with a thin pad (similar to the Mirra's pad option), if you are an upholstered chair person. In either case the Celle maintains a thin profile. You won't find a pillow thick foam pad here because it is relying on the resilience of its mesh surface to do the job of keeping you comfortable. The mesh surface is an interesting molded matrix, with small stout pillars that support you, connected by a net of connectors that makes the whole surface act as one. It also promotes the circulation of air as in the Mirra and Aeron that came before. This can be exposed on the back and the seat, or be covered with fabric on both or just the seat. The back mesh comes in a range of colors giving the chair a unique look. Dressed in black, and viewed with a squint you could mistake it for an Aeron.
• The Cella has a range of adjustments on a par with the best chairs. You will find a high range of height adjustment , arm height, width, and angle, tilt tension and limit, seat depth, lumbar support position, and a forward tilt position which I've described before and believe is a great asset.
• The Cella has also been designed along cradle to cradle standards, so it has recycled content and is made to breakdown easily into recyclable components. Whether or not you wear your green on you sleeve this is a good thing and the way all manufacturing should be moving.
Friday, December 12, 2008
So we are now in a post Aeron world, what's a chair manufacturer to do? The mission at herman miller was to bring a range of these innovations to more moderately priced seating, and to improve on other factors where possible. Specifically the Mirra is great strides ahead of the Aeron in terms of how easy it is to recycle.
Lets look at some of the Mirra's best characteristics:
• For me this chair is all about the back. The back is a one piece molding of resilient polymer. The form and pattern of the perforations in the back are designed to give it a range of stiffness and flexibility. This allows the back to provide support where its needed, and to give where it helps provide comfort. The openings also allow ventilation and airflow following the model established by the Aeron. You can get the chair with the back exposed, or with a fabric covering. I like it exposed and it comes in some interesting colors as well.
• The seat is also a fabric covered mesh rather than a foam pad, so it also supports air flow and ventilation. The seat pad has an interesting function as it adjusts for seat depth without moving by having a flexible front edge. If you need a shorter seat, then the front edge can turn down reducing the depth.
• The Mirra was designed with Cradle to Cradle principles in mind. This means the chair is made with recycled content, and when its life is done it breaks down easily into parts that are in turn easy to recycle. The claim is that it takes a fraction of the time to break down than the Aeron chair does, and although the Aeron can be recycled as well the Mirra boasts something like 96% of the chairs content can be recycled besting the Aeron.
• Without getting into all the individual functions of the chair I can say that it has the range of adjustability features and comfort you would expect from a top task chair. But they take a back seat to the other stories which the Mirra really seems to be about.