Steelcase has unveiled its new chair, node, at NEOCON. Sadly, I didn’t make it there this year, but that very same chair was actually unveiled- literally- in my office a couple of months before. My rep thought it might be of interest, so she (and the Steelcase rep that was to guard it with his life) brought it by one morning, shrouded in a white sheet. It was that special! It was that secret! There could be no risk of another vendor seeing it! (Luckily, I’m on the client side!) I wanted to blog about it then, but had to contain my excitement. I didn’t even really tell anyone about it because it was hard to describe simply with words and do it justice. Start telling people about a plastic tablet arm classroom chair and it’s hard for them to get past the image of standard horrible classroom seating. But this is a chair that won the Innovation Award in the Education Solutions category at NEOCON and that’s a big deal. Since we’ve established it’s hard to describe with words, I’ve posted Steelcase’s informative video instead.
So I visited my local Steelcase dealer recently and got to check out some very cool products. This was a department “field trip” and I was accompanied by 4 co-workers, all guys. A couple of people from the architecture firm we work with were also there, and between all of us, including our hosts, there were only 2 girls beside myself. Mind you we were a dozen people, so this got me to thinking: what’s up with all the guys involved in the contract furniture industry? Was there really a higher male to female ratio or was it just me? Don’t get me wrong- I think it’s great that there are so many guys in an industry that some people think is female dominated. Back in 2002 when I wandered the halls of the New York School of Interior Design, there were sooo few guys. I thought this was bizarro because so many talented men filled the pages of A&D magazines. Hmmm….maybe they didn’t all go to school (at least not in NYC). Anyhooow, back to the point: saw some great products. Technology is becoming increasingly integrated into furniture solutions and I’m thinking this is why more guys are into furniture than ever before. Not that us women don’t like technology. I love technology. I love my iPhone, I love my GPS, and don’t even get me started on vibrating mascara. But still, it seems that men just get more hot and bothered about techy stuff. So seriously, let’s talk about those products already. Media:scape is a conferencing solution that Steelcase has recently introduced, allowing multiple users to plug their laptops into an interface, connecting to each other and 1 or 2 flat panel displays. This facilitates collaboration and allows information to be shared instantly, taking meetings to new levels.
Media:scape by Steelcase
Different table shapes and heights are available, as well as cool seating options, from stools to task chairs to lounge seating. This system does not come cheap, and fortunately Steelcase has implemented a “test-drive” program, allowing end users to try the product for a few weeks. Girlie as I am, I’m ready to be in the driver’s seat. Just give me the keys.
At 5’5”, I love visiting showrooms with my 6’4” coworker because we can really evaluate chairs. I’ve found that the vast majority of task and guest seating fits into 3 categories: 1-we both hate it 2- I love it but it’s too small for him 3- he loves it but I’m being swallowed by it. Recently we’ve been finding some chairs that fit into a 4th category: we both love them.
Not necessarily a new introduction, but more of an updated classic, the new Leap WorkLounge & Ottoman was one of our favorites. We both had one of those moments where you sit down, put your feet up, and say “ahhh.” This brought me back to the days when I used to actually work for a Steelcase dealership in Cairo. In 2000 when the Leap retailed at a much higher price, we had only one in our work area and it was the most coveted task chair. It brings me back nostalgically to my first experience with the contract furniture industry. And while I may have purchased 100 Aerons last year, there’s a still a place in my heart for the Leap. This new version has a nifty sidekick: an ottoman that flips up into a laptop table. Sweet!
The i2i, another one of our faves by Steelcase, is cool because it looks techy and has a StarWars-type name. It also happened to be very comfortable for both of us. This chair’s seat swivels so that you can turn in your seat and rest sideways on the arm. This is perfect because while I like to talk about ergonomics and posture as much as the next person, in reality I sit in chairs like a pretzel. i2i lets you do this in style.
Another chair we were both really down with is the Generation by Knoll. We saw this earlier in the week at another dealership and we’re eagerly awaiting a sample to come to our office. I’d already tried this chair at NEOCON and anyone who was there couldn’t have missed all the yummy candy-colored versions on display at Knoll. Generation is ergonomic, affordable, and pretty. Not to mention very green. Check out knoll.com for recycled content, green guard info and other sustainable stats. It’s also first task chair I’ve seen that you can sit in backwards, lean into and flex the back down. Finally, a work chair that you can show who’s boss.