Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
How do we go about designing the ultimate sitting experience? Because it's not about the chair (it's about the person sitting in it), we challenged ourselves to redefine the structure of a chair. Prototypes were developed separating the traditional chair frame from the supportive layer and then tested. Consistently, test subjects said one prototype seemed in tune with their every movement. Users stayed balanced, centered and comfortable. The chair naturally responded to every twist, turn, reach, and recline, providing new levels of movement, comfort, and support.
A chair needs both structure and support but users only want to feel the latter. This thinking led to moving the structural frame from the outside of Fern to the center, much like that of the human spine. Suspension is artfully integrated; an endoskeleton as opposed to historical exoskeleton chair design.
Inspired by the plant's structure, Fern is modeled after a central loop spine that we call the stem suspension system with an array of fronds connecting from the frame to the supportive layer and with a final layer of supportive mesh. The relationship between these layers creates a stored energy responding naturally to movement and providing users with an edgeless comfort experience. There are no hard edges to bump or cause pressure as users move. Each frond is calibrated to support a different area of the back. As a result, Fern provides user reactive total back support – from the thoracic, to the lumbar, to the pelvic areas. This total support is continuous as the user moves and adjusts. Like the back, the seat also has fronds that provide built-in flexibility for ergonomic comfort. This innovative design has earned Fern sixteen patents.
To create a next-generation task chair, we stopped thinking about seating, and started thinking about sitting. To redefine the structure of a chair. To design a task chair that's more intuitive and supportive, yet more desirable and experiential. To build on the science that informed some of the best ergonomic seating in the industry and create a chair that's an extension of the user allowing the user to freely move as you work yet provides full body support. For the engineers and designers this meant rethinking the chair from top to bottom, from the inside out and the outside in.
Our design vision included combining the performance of a task chair balanced with the simplicity and inviting appeal of a lounge chair while embracing the performance demands of todays' user and providing unparalleled levels of comfort and movement in a chair. How a chair with great flexibility and movement is integrated in to a chair every user wants to interact with. This contradicts most of today's task chairs that have great support, but don't intuitively move with the user and have a more mechanical aesthetic.
A chair needs both structure and support but users only want to feel the latter. This thinking led to moving the structural frame from the outside of the chair back to the center, much like that of the human spine.
This chair incorporates the Wave Suspension system that harnesses a balance of mechanical forces to provide the proper flex, resistance, and total back support. It responds to every movement intuitively based on each person's size and shape. The three components of this system include:
Stem™ and Fronds™
Inspired by nature, the stem section is a central loop spine that supports a series of Fronds that extend like leaves. Each frond is calibrated to support a different area of the back, from the thoracic (upper back) to the lumbar and to the pelvic areas. This total support is continuous as the user moves and adjusts. The stem loop spine allows for exceptional torsion movement while also allowing access for the optional "pillow" lumbar support to reside and move vertically.
The cradle tensions the fronds from the stem and provides the stored energy to respond and adjust to the user's back. This combination creates a movement with no hard edges or frames to create discomfort. Development of the cradle suspension mesh included 37 different prototype patterns with many comfort trials to tune in a performance driven solution that adjusts to the user.
The knitted skin
This 3D spacer knit covers the cradle suspension on the front and back side of the fronds and cleverly snaps in to the stem loop ring producing the micro-cushioned outer tactile layer of the chair that the user feels. The opacity of this skin varies depending on the color and lighting, giving a glimpse of the embedded intelligence.
The Cradle is supported by the stem and fronds structure, not a hard outer edge. As a result, the chairs Infinity Edge™ undulates with the users' body movements to create an edgeless comfort experience. The taller back is a result of early research advising the need to support the back from the neck all the way down to the pelvis providing total back support.
To mimic nature through design, engineering and advanced material, the relationship between these layers creates a stored energy responding naturally to movement and providing users with an edgeless comfort experience. Similar to plants and trees, they are strongest at the core and more flexible at the ends. There are no hard edges to bump or cause pressure as users move. Each frond is calibrated to support a different area of the back. Like the back, the seat also has fronds providing greater strength and flexibility. The seat consists of central "spine beams" that align with the back creating a strong core of the seat with flexing sides and corner segmented fronds that provide inherent flexibility and comfort under the thighs. The innovation in this chair has earned sixteen patents.
We don't profess to tell the user how they should feel in the chair, but let our users inform the experience. During design development prototypes were created exploring new relationships between the chair frame structure and the supportive layer. Consistently, test subjects and ergonomic experts said this prototype was in tune with their every movement. Users stayed balanced, centered and comfortable. The chair naturally responded to every twist, turn, reach and recline providing new levels of movement, comfort, and support.
We put the user at the center, because we understand that a chair must enhance the sitting experience by making each person feel balanced, centered, and able to move with freedom and comfort. This prototype became a non-traditional task chair; one that doesn't limit or even disrupt natural movement because movement is a natural result of today's work processes. We rarely sit still. We stretch, reach, twist, lean forward, recline, get up, and sit back down as we work. Nothing should get in the way of this movement – not even ourselves. This edgeless comfort provides unprecedented freedom of movement. The forms and textures of user controls like the arms and activations are designed to feel more natural and human in feel and movement.
A chair must enhance the sitting experience – this is why we put the user at the center of the need for unparalleled freedom of movement and comfort. People are the foundation of all business success. Yet, while human capital is every organization's greatest asset, it's also the single greatest expense. An overwhelming majority of a company's investment goes to employee wages and benefits. To optimize human capital, organizations need people who find purpose in their work, who are engaged with their surroundings and each other.
Getting there requires a shift in strategy. It means moving toward the source of all business success – people. The more we know about keeping them comfortable, focused and healthy, the more we gain. Workers expect comfortable and supportive environments that blur the line between life and work. Ergonomists cite four main reasons to invest in your workers' surroundings: improved safety and health, reduced costs, greater productivity, and regulatory concerns. Performance stems from the person.
Few things in the workplace evoke a stronger physical and emotional connection than a person's chair. It's the center of work. It's personal and individually adjustable and can even give employees an empowering sense of place. Good ergonomic seating also enables concentration and minimizes the distractions that stem from being uncomfortable.
A single model of this chair fits from the 5th percentile of women to the 95th percentile of men and the mechanism is designed to meet many global standards for size and weight. Some of the sixteen patents for this chair are around the "quick adjust" recline mechanism which accommodates this large range with a limited amount of adjustment. This broad application and ergonomic advantages make this a premium task chair. Customers are realizing this and, as a real-life customer example, dipping into non-facilities budgets to procure this chair for their organization. This reinforces the value of workers in an organization even amidst the trend towards lower cost and lower performing chairs. This chair is designed, manufactured and tested with longevity in mind with the highest craftsmanship and quality backed by a twelve year 24/7 use warranty.
This single chair model was designed to be scalable from a minimalistic yet elegant chair with fixed arm and only height and recline tension adjustment with the option to add seat depth, lumbar adjustment, forward tilt and back stop options as well as 4 dimensional arms.
In a society where sitting is vilified ("sitting is the new smoking"), this chair is the evolution of sitting as working. Encouraging moving; a chair with full body support and ergonomics to keep the user healthier while completing concentrative tasks while seated. A more flexible and active chair to provide healthier support.
This chair was designed for sustainable assembly and disassembly. Keeping the environment a priority when choosing sustainable materials and processes and the removing banned chemicals. Manufacturing is in an ISO14001 facility with Zero Waste to Landfill status. Options for delivery of chairs blanket wrapped versus boxed and standard delivery consolidation increases our resource-efficient transportation options. This chair is manufactured with 41% recycled content and offers an end of life take back program and is 92% recyclable and has attained Greenguard and BIFMA level 3 certification.