Sunday, September 17, 2006

ID - Lean On Me

Vitra Headline
Price: 1430; $1730 with armrests; $2800 in leather.

The HeadLine, Vitra's latest task chair may be better for the brain than the body, designed by Italy’s renowned Mario Bellini and his son Claudio. Vitra describes it as a “new ergonomic concept” due to its innovative means of reclining while supporting the head, neck, and shoulders. It’s clear that the HeadLine is a chair on a mission, a designer’s exercise that boasts interesting concepts. But in the pursuit of an ideal, its cushiness has suffered.

The designers intended the stiffness. Soft chairs are more likely than firm chairs to hurt your tush, causing coccydynia, a condition that has been compared to being impaled on a garden cane. Thus the hardness of the HeadLine’s bottom cushion is great for pinpointing your ischial tuberosities—or “sit bones”—which support your weight far better than either your coccyx or your soft parts.

The only time you sink into the HeadLine is when you recline in it: According to Vitra, the chair’s back has an internal plastic panel that changes shape as you lean, flattening the lumbar support so that your shoulders and back can rest comfortably. The chair’s seat is also biosynchronized with its back (they move in an ergonomically correct manner) to prevent you from slipping out of the chair as you recline. The entire set-up smoothly articulates to a considerable angle, keeping you comfortably supported with your weight properly distributed—if it reclined further, it might serve well as a dentist’s chair.

The chair’s reclining motion is meant to solve a problem you might not be aware you had: The designers claim that by allowing you to lean back in the archetypal posture of a daydream, the HeadLine “facilitates thinking as well as sitting.” It’s an impressive feat of engineering and design.

Beyond its failure to coddle, there are several simple things the chair does well. Levers and switches adjust the chair’s height, the force required to recline, the seat’s fore-aft position, and the height of the ever-present lumbar support. Therefore, it can accommodate people of different sizes, even though it looks made for large ones. And perhaps the highlight of the chair is Vitra’s “3-D warp-knitted fabric.” It feels superb, just coarse enough to keep you in place without feeling rough. The chair comes in perforated leather as well, but the fabric might be too good to pass up. I’d take a sofa made of it. Finally, it’s laudable that the chair is almost entirely recyclable and that half of it is made from recycled material.

I'm inquisitive to know how many of you would pay extra cash for comfortness. Me personally I'm ok with my $59 chair from Walmart :)

ID - June 2006, Michael Wiklund



Blogger mary said...

I would pay extra for comfort (I have a bad back) but not that much! It's interesting that you put this here as my colleagues and I asked for new office chairs about a month and a half ago. We had to go get a notebook from Purchasing that had all of the chairs availble on state contract. There wasn't much to choose from and one of my co-workers said he could find better, cheaper chairs. We discovered that the notebook that we had to look through didn't have all state contract chairs. There were more available that were better (and more expensive!), so we pushed for the better chairs, and after some finagling, we were able to order them: Leap chairs by Steelcase. In a year-long study, people who received Leap chairs and office ergonomics training achieved a 17.8% increase in productivity. Mine comes in later this week. Updates soon...

1:02 PM  
Blogger marydorsey said...

Definitely leather.

(We got new chairs from Herman Miller when we moved into the new Art Building last year. They are ergonomic (not leather) and are a dream to work in! Walmart has nice chairs too but wait til you have a 58 year old body!

11:01 PM  
Blogger Professor Melis said...

With all my computer-related ailments of late, I'd pay more too. I hope you'll share that chair info you spoke of with me Mary!

9:04 PM  

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