Sitting down at NeoCon
In his new book about the comprehensive history of chairs, “Now I Sit Me Down,” architect and writer Witold Rybczynski states, “The chair is a barometer of human behavior and attitudes of posture. Do we want to recline, lounge, slouch, or sit upright? Do we seek status or comfort? Or both?”
To find out, MGA&D sent an interdisciplinary design group to the recent NeoCon Show – the undisputed king of shows for the contract furniture world – held in Chicago’s behemoth Merchandise Mart. Our team of architects, interior designers, and industrial designers spent an information-packed 3 days checking out the different options offered for “sitting” in the ever-changing workplace environment. Here are some ways of sitting that caught our attention at NeoCon:
1. Conventional Sitting
Vitra – Belleville Chair by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
We are big fan of the Bouroullec brother’s work. Their “Belleville Collection” was introduced last year, but this year’s NeoCon was our first time seeing and touching this gem in person. It is a brilliantly sculpted and proportionally comfortable chair. We literally skipped up to the Vitra showroom in order to experience the “sit” due to the chair being so easy and welcoming on the eyes!
2. Bar Stool Sitting
Geiger/Herman Miller – Spot Stool by Michael Anastassiades
Is it a sculpture stand, plant stand, elemental essence of barstool, or all of the above? This curious stool is first touched by the hands to feel the subtly of comfort, then experienced by the rest of the body. The material selection intuitively expresses the stools orientation, if that sort of thing is important to you.
Gunlocke – Trillia Bar stool Collection by Ida Design
The craftsmanship, fine details, and versatility of this stool collection are exemplary. The leather pad and stitched embellishment convey comfort and a bespoke quality. The aesthetically pleasing metal bar adds the right amount of supporting bling. We found ourselves staring at this range of stools for way too long, which many in society find impolite.
3. Perching as Quasi-Sitting
Knoll – HiLo Perch by Box Clever
It certainly is playful and changes the way you approach your work, providing a good abdominal work out as it keeps you teetering between being active and relaxed, fun and functional, sitting and standing. It is the epitome of non-committal seating.
4. Behavioral Sitting
Spec Furniture – 1000, 2000 & 3000 Series Heavy Duty Seating
We have to admit that this category of furniture was not even in our collective consciousness. Now we can’t seem to move away from it, but that seems to be the point. Interesting, yet institutional, tamperproof yet inviting, we loved this collection because it did not stigmatize the person who sits in it. Crazy good!
5. Acute Care Sitting
Nemschoff – Ava Recliner by 5d Studio
Offering enhanced performance, while eliminating excess is the hallmark of excellent design and that is what Ava has achieved with their most recent recliner. It looks and feels different for a reason, because it improves upon the basic requirements of a recliner at every touch point. It is comfortable with a minimal footprint. We feel patients will heal and mend in this well-being throne.
6. Tactile Comfort Sitting
HBF Textiles – Christaine Muller collection
If there was ever a textile collection that we wanted to sit on based solely on construction and visual appeal, this would be the line. Comfort is imbued into this tactile sensation and blurs the line between office and home with high design acuity. I yearned to remain in a posterior pelvic tilt with this fabric under me.
7. Sans Sitting- Standing
All the major furniture players – However, make sure to check out Humanscale for their futuristic offerings.
Ok, we know there isn’t a chair in this picture. That is the point. All major manufacturers were offering some kind of solution for a raising and lowering desk or stand that allows your computer equipment to be positioned up or down (to be used with or without a chair). This is not a trend people, being good for your back and posture, it’s omnipresent and will not go away quietly!
8. Park Bench Seating
Teknion – Zones Collection by PearsonLloyd
This comprehensive collection features seating, tables, screens, easels and semi-private enclosures for intimate collaboration areas or private space settings to support the changing needs of how people work. We are enamored with these calmly poetic communal seating solutions that frankly remind us of park benches, but yet are oh so comfortable when you melt into them. All that is needed is a bag of seed and a few well-fed pigeons scurrying about.
9. Vertical Social Sitting
BuzziSpace – Buzzi Jungle by Jonas Van Put
Primal tropical jungle meets Chuckie Cheese is what came to our minds when we came across this collection. This certainly is a perfect seating solution to take advantage of those taller spaces you may have in your office. All about interaction, co-working and experiencing collaboration from different points of view.
10. Comfortable sitting for all type
Davis Furniture – All chairs at the NeoCon Showroom
Our group reluctantly left this showroom, as everyone wanted to go back and do another round of sitting. There is an equanimity of satisfying comfort throughout all Davis chairs. They all sit comfortably, with an understated aesthetic and offer an overtone of mid-century modern underpinning throughout. Try the Zen Chair or Sketch Lounge and bask in a state of physical ease.
11. Lean Sitting
Allsteel – Hedge, Lean lounge wall
This put a new spin on the phrase “Lean In.” If you don’t have room for a traditional seating area, build a low angled upholstered wall in a crescent shape, and voilà – people will flock to try it out and engage in collaborative thought and conversation. Who knew?
12. Offsite Sitting
Kimball – Their new showroom is directly across the street from the Merchandise Mart.
There are many great opportunities to sit inside the Mart. How refreshing is it to break the long, monotonous trade show aisles and find an opportunity to sit and gaze outward, upward and downward right outside the Mart? Kimball’s showroom space provides wonderful new perspectives in sitting and offers innovative solutions to familiar challenges. The Kimball showroom is an energizing space, teeming with light – an environment that lifts your spirit. Offering spectacular views of the Windy City and of the Chicago River, it is not to be missed.