Office Furniture: Ergonomic Seating, Workstations, and Systems Furniture

Office furniture constitutes a large segment of the furniture industry. The U. S. office furniture industry has grown significantly over the past 20 years, reaching $12 billion in gross sales in 2006.7 Ergonomic seating is a large portion of this market. Today, many well-designed ergonomic chairs are available. Some of these include Haworth’s Zody, Herman Miller’s Equa, Aeron, and Mirra chairs, Humanscale’s Freedom chair, Knoll’s Chadwick™ and Life® chair, and Steelcase’s Leap chair (Figure 2.44).

Office furniture systems have undergone significant transforma­tions because of social and economic change, ergonomic theories, and technological innovation. From the metal and wood chairs that were first introduced in the mid-1800s to the intuitive mechanisms and poly­mer fibers of today’s ergonomic seating, office furniture has signifi­cantly transformed. Consider how computer and digital technology, new production advancements, and cultural shifts in the way office work is organized and managed have changed the workplace from the heavy, dark environments that were typical 100 years ago (Figure 2.45).

Подпись:In 1968, Herman Miller introduced Action Office (see Chapter 4), the first panel-based, open-plan office system in the world.8 The designer, Robert Propst, developed a system of components that could be configured and reconfigured as needed over time. The ability of individuals to control their physical and ambient work environ­ments responded to a growing trend. The Action Office system

Office Furniture: Ergonomic Seating, Workstations, and Systems Furniture

Figure 2.45 Heavy, dark office work environment, typical 100 years ago. Photography courtesy of Steelcase, Inc.


Office Furniture: Ergonomic Seating, Workstations, and Systems Furniture

Figure 2.44 Leap office chair, designed by Steelcase and IDEO (1999), manufactured by Steelcase. The depth of the lower-back support is adjustable by turning a knob, which controls the tension of a slotted, flexing polypropylene backrest panel. Photography courtesy of Steelcase, Inc.


Подпись: Figure 2.46 Resolve-propeller application, DOT on rolling screens, poles support arms and tool rails, metallic silver finish, designed by Ayse Birsel (1999), manufactured by Herman Miller. Photography by Jim Powell. Courtesy of Herman Miller, Inc. Подпись:transformed the workplace, as well as Herman Miller and the entire furniture industry, into a systems-based approach in thinking about the role of design.9 Since then, the concepts of networking, teaming, and hoteling have developed in the cul­ture of the workplace, and these in turn have inspired new office systems and new product lines. Primary themes behind Action Office are open communication areas, flexibility for spa­tial and functional change, maximizing the utility of vertical sur­faces, and incorporating a greater sense of user control throughout the workspace.

Nearly 35 years later, Ayse Birsel’s Resolve office system (Figure 2.46) reestablished the success of Herman Miller’s origi­nal office system by expressing new ideas about spatial flexibility and individual control over one’s environment. Resolve utilizes geometries based upon 120-degree angles that create inviting, attractive, space-efficient, and open workstations. The system is composed of vertical poles of various heights and tiered support trusses that manage power and define space. The shape and size of the horizontal work surfaces, used for writing and working, can best be described by extending one’s arm out in front and sweeping it from side to side. It has high recycle content and offers supporting products that include canopies, specialized work surfaces, and light­ing fixtures.