Branded Office Chairs Part 2: Steelcase Top 3 – Leap, Think And Amia

In this week's post it's time to look at 3 of the most popular office chairs from Steelcase. And we're going to examine its Leap, Think and Amia chairs, let's get started with the Leap.

Leap chair
The Leap is the most established of the chairs in this comparison and was introduced in 2000. It's proved to be a very popular chair with the watchword definitely on comfort and performance.

Leap chair

Leap Chair In Orange Fabric

Steelcase tends to spend a lot of time and research on new products and the Leap is no exception as it took some 4 years to develop.

It was also the subject of extensive independent testing which showed an actual increase in user productivity of 17.8% from 200 participants that took part in a year long study.

Here are some of the useful functions on the Leap. The chair back is pressure adjustable independently at the top and the bottom. This means is works better for your overall back support.

Another neat feature is the way that the back reclines. When you lean back it lets you keep in eye contact with your work. Most chairs tend to push your whole body upwards forcing you to break the connection with your work.

And if you like a well padded seat you'll find the Leap comfortable to use.

Next, lets move on to the Think chair.

Think chair
The Think chair was launched in 2004 and in many respects is a departure from traditional office chair construction.

Think Chair

Think Chair Open Back In Blue

It's back has a series of steel wire flexors running from side to side known as Your Profile™ and these react to the user's sitting position. So as you apply pressure the flexors move in and out to support you. The back is then finished in either an open mesh fabric or a more conventional upholstery with padding.

The seat also uses flexor supports which are hidden by the chair's upholstery. With the Think it's very easy to adjust to how you like to work via a 4 position weight activation control. This allows you to vary the chair's pressure and movement to suit your needs. And if you want to work in a fixed position at any time you can lock it in an upright position.

It has a sliding seat so you can set the seat depth to match your leg length. Also the front of the seat has a flexible surface so you don't find any hard edges digging into your thighs. Overall the Think offers good comfort and the fully upholstered back is the best choice if you prefer a padded backrest.

Its an eco friendly product and 99% of the components are recyclable.

Finally, let's take a look at Steelcase's more recent introduction, the Amia.

Amia chair
Steelcase's Amia is its most recent new model first appearing in 2007.

Amia Chair

Amia Chair In Light Grey Fabric

It follows the trend of more recent products with the emphasis on ease of use and comfort. Not only that, by standardizing on certain components like one size of chair back costs have been kept down resulting in it being 36% cheaper than the Leap chair.

Although it is constructed more like a conventional office chair it has some nice design touches.

The tension adjuster controlling the amount of pressure needed when reclining is conveniently accessed on the right side of the chair. This is much better than the more common control found under the middle of the chair which can be fiddly to adjust.

The front edge of the seat has a passive support which flexes downwards as you sit so the seat edge doesn't dig into your legs.

It also has a concealed lumbar support within the back which can be easily slid up and down to fine tune back support.

Summary
Let's sum up the key points on these 3 Steelcase chairs:

  • Independent tests show that the Leap increased productivity by 17.8%
  • Leap reclines in such a way that your eyes remain focussed on your work
  • Think's flexor supports move as you move to support you
  • Adjusting the Think is quick and easy through the weight activation control
  • Amia's adjusters are simple to use and conveniently located.
  • Amia price works out at 36% less than the Leap

Further information
Here's where you can find full reviews of these 3 Steelcase chairs:

And here's the link to the article about Herman Miller branded office chairs which was the first post in this series.

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How Modern Task Chair Design Leaves Traditional Models in the Dust

Office chair design has improved in leaps and bounds in the past 20 years, and yet there are still a huge amount of task chairs being made today built around the same old technology that existed 30 years ago.

Why is this? A lot of it has to do with the cost of tooling to make new components. It just costs a lot of money to create a new chair from the ground up.

It’s far easier to take what already exists and just tweak its appearance a little, rather like an automobile design where cars get facelifts every couple of years to prolong the life of a model.

Exactly the same thing happens with chairs. The basic guts of the thing, the bits you don’t see, stay the same. However, by reshaping the seat and back and maybe changing the base design, it’s possible to make the old appear new.

Fortunately, some companies are prepared to start with a blank sheet of paper and to do something radically different. Not surprising these tend to be the bigger players in the market who have the necessary resources and have a genuine desire to produce a substantially different and innovative chair.

Typically these manufacturers will do extensive market research into what problems users face and then go about creating a solution.

One of the big trends in recent years has been the launch of much simpler chairs, where the user just adjusts the height and maybe a couple of other things.

The chair has an inbuilt ability to anticipate what the user is doing by sensing their body movements as it self-adjusts and supports the user comfortably during the working day.

This is largely a good thing, as the majority of people don’t want to fiddle with loads of levers and buttons. Examples of these types of chairs include the HÅG Futu, Knoll’s Generation, and HumanScale’s Freedom and Liberty chairs.

Other manufacturers like Herman Miller and Steelcase prefer to create new models based on new technology and yet still let the user have lots of control over the settings.

Modern products like the Embody from Herman Miller, and the Think and Leap from Steelcase allow more user adjustment.

The one big downside with all of these new innovations comes down to cost. All that expensive design and tooling has to be paid for and as a result, chairs like these tend to start around the $500 mark.

This is why old, outdated seat design continues to be commonplace. Most of the components used in old-style seating can simply be bought off the shelf from component manufacturers who are geared up to turn out the various mechanisms and parts cheaply and quickly.

This results in a gulf in prices between old style models and newer ground breaking chairs, and once you try out one of these new breed of chairs and discover how superior they are, you will truly understand why they leave the same-old, same-old in the dust.

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Why Do People Repeatedly Make The Same Mistake Buying An Office Chair?

For some reason many people put hardly any thought or effort when buying a new office chair, their blinkered approach too often comes down to one thing – price.

They look for the cheapest chair they can lay their hands on, regardless of its quality and fitness for purpose.

Of course price is important we all want to save spending unnecessarily, however looking at the price should be the final part of the process, it's far more important to get the specification right first, once this has been established then price can be taken into account.

Here are some key questions you need answering before you can decide on the best chair for you.

  • How much time do you spend in an office chair daily?
  • What sort of work do you do in it?
  • Do you suffer any back pain and discomfort presently?
  • Do you like a firm or a well padded seat?
  • Do you perspire a lot on hot days?
  • Are you above or below average height/weight/build?

 

Your answers to these questions will help you to pinpoint the right sort of chair for you. For instance if you spend 8 – 10 hours a day in a chair you really need to buy a well built chair with a good guarantee period – 5 years minimum. If you don't you will be regretting your decision very quickly.

Where you do a lot of interactive work like typing, a chair with great support will surely be high on your shortlist of possibilities.

The same can be said if you suffer back pain and discomfort, you have to select a chair with good back support.

If you are the sort of person who prefers a well padded seat, chances are you will find chairs like the Aeron a challenge due to the firm seating position and something like a Steelcase Leap may be better. On the other hand if you are given to sweating a lot in hot weather an Aeron could very well make an excellent choice due to its open mesh upholstery as it allows good air circulation.

Most chairs are made to fit the average person whatever that might mean, those who are below or above average height will need to take more care with their selection. Neutral Posture seating has some excellent solutions tailored for people who are below or above average height and or weight.

A chair designed for a tall person would be disastrous for a small framed person just as a chair intended for a petite person would be completely unsuitable for a large framed user, regardless of how stylish or sexy the chair looks.

So, spend time weighing up the above points and how they may affect you. This article discusses the key components on an office chair you need to assess and will help you to evaluate the important things you need.

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