Vitra have expanded their HAL range of seating with the introduction of the HAL Lounge Chair, Jasper Morrison’s reinterpretation of the traditional upholstered four-legged armchair with a high backrest. The chair’s aesthetic is understated and versatile, suited to use at home or in public spaces, and can stand either alone, in pairs or in groups.
Despite its compact dimensions, the lounge chair is exceptionally comfortable. The shell is fibreglass reinforced plastic encased in polyurethane foam with natural or stained oak legs. It comes with soft loose seat and neck cushions or, if preferred, with an integrated seat cushion.
The HAL Lounge Chair can be paired with the HAL Ottoman, allowing users to enjoy its full comfort with their feet up. Both the HAL Lounge Chair and HAL Ottoman come in a choice of upholstery options with removable covers.
We live in strange times. Those of us who are not self-isolating face a weekly shop that is like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. Hand sanitiser, pasta, and toilet roll are now more precious than gold. All sport is cancelled. Coronavirus has come to dominate our lives and the UK government is now urging workers to avoid the office and work from home where possible. At some point soon this could well become a full lockdown. Fair enough, we might enjoy some home comforts during our working day. And yet, often the home is not that comfortable, at least when it comes to home working. So if you are working from home, hunched over a laptop on the sofa, or your backside is going numb on a rock hard kitchen chair, check out our 5 chairs to upgrade your homeworking experience to something more comfortable.
Lino is the new task chair from Herman Miller. Leaning on more than 50 years of Herman Miller’s industry-leading research and design, Lino holds the same DNA as the rest of their performance work chairs, offering each person balanced movement and dynamic fit. Lino brings scientifically backed comfort and a wide range of aesthetic options to your home. Lino’s contoured seat works together with its high-performance Duo Suspension to give you total spinal support, and the breathable suspension features integrated lumbar support thanks to a composite of different thread tensions. You can customise your Lino Chair by choosing between a Black or Mineral frame, six different suspension colours and a large variety of upholstery options. For the base, choose a colour that matches the frame or, for a sleeker look, turn to polished aluminium. For even more comfort go for the PostureFit back option that supports the sacral and lumbar regions.
Diffrient World is Humanscale’s first foray into all-mesh task seating. Designer Niels Diffrient wanted to create the most minimal, full-function task chair ever made. With an innovative tri-panel mesh backrest that provides custom back and lumbar support and a lightweight design, Diffrient World is simple, beautiful and functional. The design eliminates the need for traditional mechanisms, instead using the laws of physics and the sitter’s body weight to offer perfect recline for each individual sitter with armrests that are attached to the back of the chair so they move with the user. Diffrient World offers the ultimate user-friendly sitting experience. A high quality, affordable task chair with minimal parts, Diffrient World was built with longevity in mind and will look as good in ten years as it does today
DO is the result of taking a completely fresh look at task chair design, DO does more with less. DO is innovative in terms of the materials used, the way it’s assembled and transported, and the powerful performance it delivers. People come in all shapes and sizes and with shared workspaces becoming increasingly common there’s a growing need for simple, adaptable seating. Thanks to user-centred design and a weight balancing mechanism, DO doesn’t have multitude of knobs and levers to find and struggle with. In fact, DO increases the range of adjustment on offer, while at the same time simplifying how it’s delivered, making DO easier to set up and intuitive to use.
Both the technical and upholstered mesh textiles adapt to each user’s body shape to always provide great back support. The single skin mesh allows better temperature control and breathe-ability than a traditional upholstered back. Lumbar support is included as standard. The weight balancing mechanism automatically adapts to any size of user, taking away the need for the usual tension adjustment & complicated chair ‘set-up’. The optional travel limiter allows back recline to three different angles but ensures that the back can only ever be locked in the upright position.
ID Trim is part of Antonio Citterio’s ID Chair Concept family of chairs. The ID Chair Concept is based around the FlowMotion mechanism that supports the sitter across the full range of movement. Nearly all functions can be adjusted while sitting in the chair, and just a few quick turns of an adjustment screw enable precision tuning from minimum to maximum resistance. Even if the settings are not optimally adjusted on occasion, the chair still retains its ergonomic properties.
With its compact padding, the backrest of the ID Trim office chair conveys a sense of classic elegance and quality craftsmanship. ID Chairs in warm earthy hues have a particularly understated character, perfect for a home office. The sandwich construction with integrated lumbar support provides the comfort of an upholstered backrest while being almost as slim as a mesh backrest. The interplay of the polyamide frame with the multi-chamber padding gives the backrest its three-dimensional range of movement. It adapts to the contours of the sitter’s body and distributes varying degrees of flexibility and support to the correct zones. Integrated cushioning in the lumbar region, flexibility in the thoracic, and support to the shoulders provide support and relieves strain and tension where appropriate.
It’s incredible to think that Aeron has been around in various guises for a quarter of a century now. It’s testament to its timeless design and world-class ergonomics that its still relevant, and still going strong.
While its iconic form has remained largely unchanged, the Aeron chair has been remastered from the castors up to meet the needs of today’s work. With the help of original co-designer Don Chadwick, Herman Miller have thoughtfully updated the chair based on the latest research around the science of sitting, and advancements in materials, manufacturing and technology. By doing away with foam and fabric, the original Aeron solved one of the problems of prolonged sitting: the build-up of heat and humidity close to the body. While many chairs have adopted mesh as a way to deliver some of this performance, there’s only one Pellicle and it’s now upgraded to provide multi-zonal support for increased comfort and ergonomic support.
Updates include a more refined tilt mechanism that delivers an even more seamless experience of movement to the sitter through a smoother trajectory and optimal balance point and PostureFit SL, an adjustable back support with individual pads that stabilise the sacrum and support the lumbar region of the spine to mimic a healthy standing position.
Launched in 1950 by Charles & Ray Eames, the Fiberglass Chairs introduced a new furniture typology: the multifunctional chair whose shell can be combined with a variety of bases to serve different purposes. The material of the shell’s fibreglass owes its charm to an irregular surface, which appears almost like a natural material thanks to its clearly visible fibres.
Until then fibreglass was unknown in the furniture industry, having been primarily restricted to military applications such as aircraft radomes and cockpit covers. The Eameses recognised and fully exploited the advantages of the material: mouldability, rigidity and suitability for industrial manufacturing methods. They successfully developed the moulded seat shells for mass production: the Fiberglass Chair was born. Its organically shaped, one-piece shell proved to be a much-admired innovation at a time when chairs typically consisted of a seat and backrest. Fibreglass offered the added advantage of pleasant tactile qualities and a perfectly moulded form for optimal comfort.
A Black with Feeling
For Charles and Ray Eames, black was not just black but a colour with many dimensions. The couple mainly used a limited scale of subtle and neutral colours for their furniture designs, but each palette was thoroughly researched and carefully selected.
While working on the Eames Fiberglass Chairs
in the early 1950s, Charles and Ray Eames designed a range of nuanced
shades for the chairs. No colours for fibreglass had existed before
Charles and Ray Eames designed their plastic chairs.
fibreglass colours developed by the Eameses were Greige, a portmanteau
which hinted at a beige-grey, Elephant Hide Grey, a warm black-grey, and
Parchment, which was notoriously translucent. Shortly afterward, still
in the early production phase, Sea Foam Green was added, along with a
bright Lemon Yellow and a fresh Red Orange. Later these were followed by
an array of other colours.
One hue that apparently caused the most frustration and was the most
difficult to achieve was a warm blackish grey – after several attempts
Charles Eames expressed: ‘What I really want is a black with feeling’.
These efforts ultimately resulted in the colour the Eameses called
Elephant Hide Grey.
Vitra manufactures the Fiberglass Side Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames in six of the original colours. The fibreglass shells have a lively visual appeal that is much-prized today. Fibreglass owes its charm to an irregular surface, which appears almost like a natural material thanks to its clearly visible fibres. The version with a polypropylene shell – the Eames Plastic Chairs– also remain available. Together the two chair groups form an extensive family, enabling countless variations of the classic Eames design, with a suitable version for almost every taste and purpose
When you are conceiving an office project, it’s important to capture the spirit of the company. If you manage to do that, good design happens almost by itself.
Developed by British architect Sevil Peach, the Company Home shows an example corporate headquarters created as a harmonious work environment that includes a park and a dining area; elements from the public realm that are becoming an integral part of more and more head offices. Such multi-use areas give employees a sense of well-being and offer opportunities for concentrated work, meetings or rest phases.
If it’s true that that public spaces are influencing the internal function of office interiors it’s also true that the work zone is spilling into public spaces.
Formal work rules are dissolving, regardless of where and how we work – now frequently in hotel lobbies or cafés. As a result, the desk is no longer at the centre of our work life. It is disappearing as an archetype.
Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby
The Shared Office blurs the boundaries between the office and public space where public work environments in the form of co-working spaces, cafés and hotel lobbies are becoming the norm. Increasingly companies are opening their ground floor spaces to the public. There is little demand for the classic desk in such places – rather, large sofas form the hub of new working practices. As a platform around which the workday revolves, they are equipped with power connections, worktops and privacy screens. Additional tables and chairs are grouped around the sofa and can be pulled up as needed. As part of this concept, Soft Work is a new modular sofa system that responds to today’s needs, developed in collaboration with the designers Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby.
The idea is that of an empty space that can be redesigned to suit new purposes at any time, or just as quickly be restored to its original set-up. I find it extremely interesting not to create a definite layout. A good analogy would be sports halls, which can be configured to suit a wide variety of sports and activities.
Konstantin Grcic’s concept for the Super Flexible Office is all about creativity, communication and innovation. Users can easily rearrange this office on their own: divider curtains, mobile partition walls, furniture on castors and stacking chairs make it possible to create differently sized rooms for myriad uses in just seconds. The Super Flexible Office can be frequently reconfigured while always maintaining its identity – now a meeting room, then a café, tomorrow a communal space. At Orgatec, Vitra showcased two new products in the Super Flexible Office concept: Dancing Wall, created by Stephan Hürlemann, and Rookie, a small task chair for agile workplaces, designed by Konstantin Grcic.
Just some of the many designs that will once again be under copyright protection in the UK: Eames Lounge Chair by Vitra, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona by Knoll Studio & Verner Panton’s Swan by Fritz Hansen
A quick google search reveals quite a lot of vehement hostility aimed at the new law and its promoters, with some branding the likes of Vitra, Knoll and Herman Miller as ‘thieves’. Many of the naysayers are members of the general public who wish to furnish their homes cheaply and care little for the manufacturing provenance of the product or its future value. They complain that it shouldn’t cost for example £4500 for a lounge chair or over £1000 for a dining set for your home. Whilst this may be true the problem is less about individuals (although this all adds up) but well known national and multi-national brands who are buying fakes en masse for roll-outs in offices, cafeterias and restaurants. Even well known supermarkets have got in on the act with special promotions.
Of course, many of these commentators display a complete ignorance of the design, research and development process and its costs and seem to think that tooling never needs to be replaced. Nor do they acknowledge the cost of promotion without which these classics would be unknown failures and there would be no market for the replica manufacturers. They also fail to acknowledge the continual development that genuine manufacturers put into these products as well as investment in R&D for future products. For example, Verner Panton’s ‘Panton’ chair by Vitra has only fairly recently been sold as originally intended due to material limitations, the Bertoia Side chair by Knoll Studio is now available with a much more cost conscious plastic shell and the Eames Lounge Chair itself was improved upon after release, not being fully realised until the mid-60s.
An oft touted defence of replicas is that the Eameses stood for accessible and affordable design for the masses. However, the replica market is largely filled with poor quality products made with cheap Far-East labour in factories with dubious environmental credentials. Was that really what Charles and Ray Eames stood for? It’s also well known (but conveniently ignored by many) that Charles and Ray Eames themselves fought against fakes, even going so far as to create a ‘Beware of Imitations’ advertisement for Herman Miller in 1962.
Recent furniture innovations: Joyn benching and Alcove sofas by Vitra kickstarted the agile working revolution. Continuous development: the Aeron by Herman Miller now released as a Remastered version and the Bertoia Side Chair by KnollStudio now available as a plastic shell.
Is it time for 21st Century Classics?
Herman Miller can hardly be accused of resting on their laurels, especially in the task seating market with innovations and developments such as the Aeron (a new revised Aeron Remastered has recently been launched that utilises up to date materials and mechanisms), Mirra, Embody, Sayl, and Keyn chairs. Vitra also continue to sponsor new designs and designers, with innovations such as the Alcove sofa and Joyn bench by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, two products that have been massively influential in the changing work patterns of the early 21st century office environment.
The key here though is the focus on innovations in the office environment. New – and more importantly affordable – design in crossover lounge and dining furniture that may be used in the office or the home seems less prevalent.
We love mid-century design but it’s too often used as a default, redefined or copied. Has this led to design stagnation? Certainly, there is still innovation in the furniture industry but new designs are often overlooked by architects and interior designers in favour of the safe option. There are already many good modern designs and designers out there but it’s difficult to get new designs recognised when the market is flooded with cheap copies of classics.
Why should the fakers circumvent the processes of design, research & development, prototyping and promotion? With the new legislation comes new challenges. Whilst some of these companies will seek to find loopholes to circumvent the new legislation (we have heard of one company importing to Ireland where fakes are not illegal and then 3rd party freight forwarding to the UK) it would be hoped that others will choose to focus on new products and to employ the next generation of designers to create their own design classics. This is certainly a challenge, but not one without rewards for the bold.
Specifiers, architects and designers must also play their part and seek beyond the obvious. Part of this is through education and here companies like ourselves must be pro-active in engaging with the design community to impart a broader product knowledge.
Finally, the responsibility also lies with the consumer. Just like more and more people inform themselves of the ethics of what they eat or what car they buy, they should also think about how they furnish their homes.
We’ll end this article with an unashamedly mid-century quotation from Charles Eames himself, taken from Herman Miller’s Design Q+A.
Q: What designs would tend toward ephemeral or towards permanence?
Eames: The good stuff is permanent, the bad stuff goes away. (1959)
Designed by Jasper Morrison in 2016, Vitra‘s new All Plastic Chair is reminiscent of the classic wooden chairs that have been familiar in Europe for many decades. Utilising dyed-through polypropylene, the chair represents a significant advancement in the appearance and functionality of this style of chair.
The graceful design combines great stability with excellent comfort; its backrest is attached to the frame with resilient connectors that allow it to flex in response to the sitter’s movements.
Suited for both indoor and outdoor use the All Plastic Chair comes in a choice of two-tone colours: White, Ice grey, graphite grey, ivy, brick, brown and buttercup.
Following 10 years at Riverside Studios, Leeds, we’ve undertaken a reboot of our working showroom to highlight current and emerging trends in workplace design as well as showcasing some products that, quite simply, we like too much not to show! Launched at our CoWo15 Reboot event last Thursday, the new showroom can now be officially revealed. So, if you were unable to attend the event last week; this is us. Welcome to our World!
Our reception area now features a selection of leather classics from Vitra, Knoll Studio and Walter Knoll, showcasing designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Eero Saarinen and Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm. Piero Lissoni’s luxurious Avio sofa system by Knoll Studio provides the central statement piece.
From KI, the EC4 bench system keys into the current biophilic design trend and features solid oak splayed legs and a matching laminate edge detail to give a softer and more naturalistic look. In common with other KI systems it incorporates a sturdy metal understructure with a comprehensive cable management trough. Intended as an agile work/meeting base we’ve completed the bench with CMD’s Inca power/charger unit. Inca has been designed with communal working areas and meeting rooms in mind. Four usable faces allow users easy access to power and USB charging regardless of where they are positioned around the table.
Sit-stand workstations are increasingly a requirement rather than a luxury and more systems are entering the market to suit a variety of budgets. We’re showcasing Vitra’s Tyde system by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, in our opinion one of the better back-to-back systems with its clever cable management solution and accessories.
Also from Vitra and again by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec is the Alcove Cabin. The Alcove Cabin provides a secluded space, enclosed on all sides and accessible through a single opening. It provides visual and acoustic privacy for small meetings at the table and power connections and lighting allow it to serve as a fully-fledged workspace. Alcove was the original high back sofa concept; copied many times it has sparked a small revolution in workplace meeting areas developing into the agile working ethos.
The agile working theme continues into our new breakout space with the ADD modular sofa and table and Kipu stools from lapalma. ADD’s slimline aesthetic belies its strong structure. The area is nicely screened by the Howe Spaghetti wall providing a psychological barrier that is open enough to invite you into the space and yet also provides a modicum of privacy.
So it’s summer and you’re hooked on classics? Why not extend your taste to the outside? Here’s a few classic designs suitable for outdoor use. Add some style to your office roof terrace, alfresco dining area, garden, patio, balcony or even your shed!
Italian designer Harry Bertoia patented the Bertoia Collection for Knoll in 1952. The classic design features welded steel rods, for the outdoor version coated in Rilsan durable nylon in black or white. The collection features a side chair (below), the classic “Diamond” armchair (above) and the Asymmetric Chaise. Optional leather seat pads are available for the side chair and “Diamond“. For the more budget conscious there is the Bertoia Plastic Side Chair, a new version of the side chair is now available featuring a plastic shell and the “Diamond” chair has recently been price revised. Both represent excellent value for money.
Designed by Charles & Ray Eames in 1951, Vitra’s classic Eames DKR Wire chair is now available in cream, black or grey powder coated finishes ideally suited for outdoors use. In addition the Bistro Table designed in 2009 by Rowan and Erwan Bouroullec in a solid core laminate version completes the set for the garden environment.
Conceived by Verner Panton in 1960, the Panton chair was developed for serial production in collaboration with Vitra. It was the first chair to be manufactured completely out of plastic in one single piece, advancing through several production phases before finally being produced as originally conceived – out of durable, dyed-through plastic with a lustrous matte finish since 1999.
Designed by Lievore Altherr Molina in 2005, the Leaf chair & table range has quickly become a classic. The design is inspired by nature, the chair’s welded rods reminiscent of branches of a tree or leaf veins and the table invoking a pebble. Leaf is available as a sled side chair, lounge chair and chaise in matte powder-coated steel in white, green or moka. A detachable polyurethane cushion is available for indoor and outdoor use. The range of circular and square tables are available in a water-repellent HPL top in grey.
Designed in 1999 by Ron Arad the elegant plastic shell of Tom Vac offers comfortable seating not only in interior spaces but also in outdoor settings: special additives in the moulded polypropylene shell retard the fading of colours, and the powder-coated finish of the base makes the chair suited for use on the terrace or in the garden. Since the chair can be stacked, it is especially useful in places where large numbers of chairs are required.
With Vegetal, the Boroullec’s goal was to create a chair that aspired to look like natural vegetation while simultaneously incorporating the necessary strength, stability and comfort. The flat, branch-like ribs are asymmetrically intertwined on three levels to form the seat shell, which is shaped as an irregular circle and supported by four legs that appear to sprout from the ground.
Vegetal is available in six colours and is suitable for indoor or outdoor applications and can be stacked up to three chairs high, which permits flexible use in a variety of settings and in large numbers.
With HAL, Jasper Morrison has reinterpreted the multi-functional shell chair and created a versatile family of chairs with a clean contemporary look. The shape of the seat shell provides great freedom of movement in a variety of sitting positions – even sideways or astride the chair. The HAL Tube is suitable for outdoor use and combines a polypropylene shell in a choice of 8 colours and powder-coated base in ivory or basic dark.
The Panto Pop is a stacking lounge chair with a UV-filter for outdoor use available in white or red. Designed by Verner Panton in 1969 the Panto Pop is now exclusively marketed by Verpan. Accompanying Panto Pop is the Illumesa table. Made in white acrylic for outdoor use the table is self-illuminated by a 23W internal light source.
Classics for Children
The tiny tots needn’t miss out on the outdoor fun either as Panto Pop and Illumesa (above) are equally at home with tiny hands and Vitra offer a variety of classics for children. As well as the Panton Junior, there is the Eames Elephant (1945) and Sori Yanagi’s Elephant Stool (1954) which also makes for a handy side table to go with your other classics.
Like no other colour, black evokes a timeless elegance. Vitra has applied this insight to the new Black Collection, which presents several new accessories and design objects along with re-editions of classic pieces – all in shades of black.
The Black Collection includes eleven classic pieces from some of the icons of mid 20th century design including Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson, Alexander Giraud and Dorethee Becker. The dark colours create a tasteful contrast to the playful organic shapes and original colours of these pieces.
How much more black could this be? The answer is none. None more black.
It’s London Design Week very soon where Vitra will be hosting a series of events across several venues:
At 100% Design, Vitra will demonstrate the benefits of flexible workspaces by transforming its stand layout at intermittent intervals, to highlight interchangeable work modes – namely Education, Work & Hospitality. Each mode represents activities regularly found in today’s offices yet are tied to a different need for the furniture – group seating for an audience, workspaces for varying project teams, or comfortable seating supporting social gatherings. The stand will feature the UK launch of Hack and Allstar by Konstantin Grcic, Workbays / Workbays 90 by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, and Super Fold Table by Jasper Morrison.
Vitra’s Head of Research and Solution for the Office, Raphael Gielgen will attend the stand at 100% Design on Thursday 24 September at 6.30pm, hosting a seminar on ‘The Purpose of the Office’, followed by a guided tour.
Meanwhile at designjunction there is the UK launch of the Belleville family, Vitra’s new collection designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. Belleville is the name of the vibrant Paris neighbourhood where the Bouroullec studio is based. Classic French bistro furnishings and the lively atmosphere of this Parisian quarter give visual references for this new collection.
Also in conjunction with designjunction, Vitra will be hosting ‘A Child’s Dream’ a charity project raising funds for Teddy’s Wish to aid research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), neonatal death and stillbirth while supporting grieving families.
21 world-renowned designers and architects have been invited to re-interpret the iconic Eames Elephants, showcased at Victoria House.
Finally, the ‘Timeless Design’ Exhibition at Harrods will bring together leading international brands to showcase previously unseen archive and limited-edition pieces as well as exclusive launches. At the exhibition, Vitra will focus on the works of Charles & Ray Eames and their important contribution to the past, present and future of furniture design.