The way people sit
(As featured in BusinessWorld, July 24, 2014)
HOW DO you sit when you’re near your computers? This is the question that niggled at the back of the minds of Steelcase’s designers while they worked on the company’s latest ergonomic office chair, the Gesture.
The company surveyed and observed over 2,000 people in six continents to learn how people now sit in the workplace, coming up with nine poses: The Draw (people lie on their backs with a tablet close to them), the Multi-Device (people use two devices at the same time), the Smart Lean (people lean a bit sideways to see their phones), the Text (people lean their chests forward to read text messages, with the arms raised from chair arms), the Cocoon (people ball up to read text on tablets), the Swipe (a device is placed on a desk, while a person hunches forward to read), the Trance (a person puts his head forward to read from a computer), the Take It In (a person leans back to view information from larger screens), and the Strunch (tired people pushing their computers away, while leaning forward).
The Gesture chair was then developed to accommodate these positions comfortably and safely. “We stopped looking at chairs, and started looking at people,” a company release states.
“It [the chair] works with you. It responds to you as a human movement,” said Jason Heredia, Steelcase’s Vice-President for Marketing in Asia Pacific, during the chair’s launch in the Jaguar Lifestyle Centre in the Bonifacio Global City on July 24.
The chair incorporates features such as a back that leans more than 100 degrees using Steelcase’s 3-D LiveBack technology, 360 degree-movable arm rests, and height adjustment from 16 to 21 inches. Its wide back measures a bit over 16 inches. Its control levers are only to one side, and the chair can support a person up to 300 lbs., even leaning sideways. The chair is made up of over 90% recyclable material, including platinum, aluminium, and plastic parts.
To demonstrate the chair’s abilities, President and COO of Ultra Modern Concepts, Inc., Milen Batungbacal, posed with the chair in different ways, leaning back and extending the chair’s angle, and then leaning on the chair sideways. BusinessWorld also tried out the chair, and while extending the chair’s leaning back, Ms. Batungbacal said, “Don’t worry, you’re not going to fall.”
Mr. Heredia added, “How do you create a chair that’s not like a dining room chair or not like a stick that you know, holds you up... but instead responds with you as a system?... The LiveBack technology will move with you just like your back doesn’t move with a straight line.”
Mr. Heredia also discussed the chair’s potential user. “It’s probably people that are knowledge workers: people that are paid to think and create new ideas and be performance-driven.”
The chair comes in many colors, including tangerine and purple, more than the shades of gray that were raffled off during the launch. “In your house, you don’t necessarily want to do gray,” said Ms. Batungbacal.
The chair retails for P75,000. “But you have to think of the features that go with it. What does it actually give you? People think of furniture as a commodity... but what we’re trying to do is tell you the value of getting certain items. Just like this chair: what will it give you?” said Ms. Batungbacal.
She added, “It’s not aspiration, but what it can actually give you, and what you can get from it.”
Steelcase began in 1912 in Michigan, making safes and file cabinets under the name The Metal Office Furniture Company. It changed its name to Steelcase in 1954. Steelcase office furniture is distributed in the Philippines by Ultra Modern Concepts, Inc.(UMCI), under the umbrella of Frigate Holdings Management Corp., which also distributes the luxury vehicles Jaguar and Land Rover in the Philippines.
“The business model’s really, to go after premium products with very good reputations... we were always on the lookout for a similar brand for furniture,” said Ms. Batungbacal.
That night, Steelcase representatives awarded UMCI as the Steelcase Asia Pacific Best Performance Dealer in Southeast Asia for 2013/2014. As a dealer of luxury office equipment, Ms. Batungbacal said about receiving the award, “It means that the Philippines is getting really progressive in terms of volume of business.”
Gesture office chairs and other Steelcase pieces are available through UMCI, located in the ground floor of the Salcedo Mansions at 109 Tordesillas St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. Joseph L. Garcia
BusinessWorld online article - Click here