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Explainer: You might want to sit down for this

You might want to sit down for this

Your chair sucks. That’s what the good people at the Knoll workplace furnishings company want you to know. Also, they’ve built a crazy new chair that "lets you sit how you want," and therefore supposedly doesn’t suck.


1 Take a seat in the latest in office chair technology. The Generation by Knoll is supposed to usher in a new level of comfort and functional ergonomics for workers everywhere. The key, according to Louise Addison, Knoll’s market manager for Quebec, is that the chair adapts to the way you work, and not the other way around. "We find there is a lot less static work happening in offices, [such as] where people are just sitting in front of a computer," she says. "People lean, they twist, they stretch – all kind of stuff is happening." The designers that worked on the chair filmed and photographed workers in their natural habitat in order to see all the ways we use chairs. The goal was to build something to match reality. "The human body is not made to remain in a static position, and most chairs are pretty confining," she says. It arrived in Quebec at the end of October and is available through Burovision, a local company.

2 Rather than hard plastics, the chair is built using elastomers, which are very flexible polymers. So if you turn and lean over the back of the chair to speak with someone, it folds over and offers you a place to rest your arms. Elastomers are also used for the seat, which can flex from side to side, as well as in the front. Even the arms will flex with you if you lean over to one side. The key is that the chair moves as you do, bending and flexing to offer support. It also uses your body weight as a counterbalance when you want to recline, and offers "dynamic" suspension underneath the seat to cradle your tender buttocks. "Its elastic design is the unique thing that provides unrestrained movement and lets you sit the way you want," Addison says. The Generation weighs about 13 pounds less than the average ergonomic chair, and received the highest ecological certification available for manufactured products, meaning it’s built from non-toxic, sustainable materials. A Generation can be yours for between $650 and $900, depending on the options you choose (it’s like buying a car!) and how many you order (it’s like buying drugs!).

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  • by Stephen Talko - November 29, 2009, 11:54 pm

    With ample fat deposits under the skin, the buttocks are naturally cushioned against hard surfaces. Prehistoric man sat on slabs of stone and later with civilization on hard wooden stools yet the human race managed to survive.
    The human body is not designed for prolonged sitting. Passengers on long haul plane flights strapped to their cushy seats risk getting blood clots in their legs leading to heart attacks. Car and truck drivers risk dozing off to sleep and crashing their vehicles because of a lack of stimulation from padded seats. And finally patients in senior homes have to be turned over every few hours to prevent bed sores which can eat to the bone.
    In recent years with excessive television and internet use too much sitting has contributed to the obesity epidemic. Brisk walking uses 5 times more energy than sitting and would help keep the pounds off. These high-tech chairs encourage laziness becoming part of the problem not the solution. They use non-renewable materials and are prohibitively expensive.
    At my first workplace the employer splurged on $800 ergonomic chairs and skimped on everything else including computer hardware. I myself own leather chairs that cost less than $100 and I am always jumping in and out of them. Chairs need to carry warning notices to prevent us from becoming a very out of shape society!

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