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Luxury chairs for any body, at any price

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Chairs0108.jpg The Life chair by Knoll Seating adjusts to the user’s weight without any knobs or levers. It has a mesh back with a frame that flexes when the user reclines. It includes partially recycled materials and zero-VOC paints and adhesives. ($799)
The Leap chair by Steel Case has a back that changes shape to mimic spinal motion while maintaining lumbar support. You can adjust the seat depth, and it is 94% recyclable.  ($1,199)
The Freedom chair by Human Scale has a system of pivot points that adjust to and support the body. The headrest moves when you recline or sit upright, and armrests move in tandem to prevent uneven arm positions. ($1,240)

Gone are the days when the best desk chair in the office had the most knobs and levers. “People are looking for chairs with design built into them, so the chair moves with the person,” says Hugh Donnelly, a workplace consultant at Steelcase, a national office furniture company. “The fewer the adjustments they have to make, the better.”

Today’s high-end chairs are designed with materials that adjust to the user’s body, says Jayson Gates, sales executive at Portland-based Corporate Environments, which fits with the idea of having employees move from workspace to workspace in a team setting. “People want to sit down in any chair and have it fit their body,” Gates says.

Ergonomics still matter, but designers have a new sense of what exactly that means. “If someone tells you, ‘This is how you should be sitting,’ beware,” Donnelly says. “You should be moving around in your chair, keeping blood flowing through the spine.” Therefore, the best chairs encourage movement without requiring adjustments.

In addition to using green materials and ensuring that a chair can easily be recycled at the end of its life, companies continue to focus on aesthetics. “Design is just as important as function,” says Chris Corrado, CEO of Corporate Environments. “People don’t like ugly chairs.”         

LUCY BURNINGHAM


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