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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Why Buying A Branded Office Chair Makes Sense: Beware Of Deception By Description

Brands are powerful in office chairs, just like they are in many types of product. However it's important you don't get suckered into buying the wrong thing.

When you shop at the supermarket for your favorite brands you'll often see the supermarkets own version side by side with the real thing. And if you're not careful you can end up buying the look alike because they made it look almost identical.

This happens with chairs too, the only difference is you won't see the genuine article and copy sitting side by side. Even so you still need to take care to make sure you don't get misled.

How chair names and descriptions can be misleading
Sometimes unscrupulous vendors will give their products very similar sounding names to the branded chair or use words like ‘type' or ‘style' to create the illusion that you're getting the same quality as the real thing. They're trying to take advantage of the branded product's reputation. You need to be careful and watch out for these sorts of tricks.

One of the commonest terms you see used with office chairs is ergonomic. The reason it's used so freely is it gives the impression of quality and comfort. And yet there is no laid down definition of what an ergonomic office chair is. Consequently it gets added to the description of loads of really poor chairs. And because people assume it bestows magical properties on any chair which includes the description ‘ergonomic' they take it at face value and end up buying and regretting it.

This must be very frustrating for those manufacturers who do take the trouble to produce a chair that is good quality and comfortable and worthy of being described as ergonomic. So be careful of chairs labeled ergonomic. Whilst many of them are great chairs a lot aren't. Sticking with well known brands makes sense.

How do office chairs gain brand recognition?
Any supplier hoping to develop an office chair into a respected brand isn't going to do so by turning out a poor product. Creating a brand that's going to last and become popular means it's got to be well received by potential buyers. This is best achieved by offering a great chair that performs well and offers long term value for money.

Early movers who are amongst the first to buy an as yet unproven product are soon going to shout up if things aren't right. With the Internet and the popularity of social sites like Twitter and Facebook anything that isn't what it's cracked up to be will soon be discredited.

On the other hand if the product is excellent those same channels will greatly speed up its acceptance and conversion into a brand that can be trusted. This is why the major players take so much care to do everything they can to get things right. By getting broad acceptance for a chair half the job of selling it is done.

Why buying a branded office chair is a good idea
Building a successful brand can take years so any supplier who has done so will want to make sure they don't risk jeopardizing it. Look at one of the best known brand names in office seating the Aeron chair. Launched in 1994 it's still one of the most popular chairs on the market.

miller aeron

Herman Miller Aeron

It wasn't always like this though. Did you know when it was first developed Herman Miller sounded out the market and the feedback was pretty negative. However Miller bit the bullet and introduced it anyway and it soon became accepted. With over a million Aerons sold worldwide it stands to reason it must have a good bit going for it.

Major suppliers often spend years and millions of dollars to make sure that their new brand will perform as people expect. Steelcase's took 4 years to develop and test its Leap chair to make sure everything was right about it

Other companies like Humanscale, Knoll, HÅG and Neutral Posture also take great care of their brands to make sure their users are happy.

Summary
Let's recap on what we've covered here:

  • Beware of look alike products with similar names
  • Recognize that ‘ergonomic' when applied to an office chair means very little
  • Brand recognition is rarely built around a poor product
  • Buying a brand name ensures a good level of quality

Remember just like supermarkets some suppliers will try and create their version of a brand, usually at a fraction of the quality and price. Here's where you can find more about some of the most popular office chair brands from the likes of Herman Miller, Steelcase, Humanscale, Knoll, HÅG and Neutral Posture.

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Steelcase Launches The Leap Plus Chair For Users Weighing Up To 500lbs

leap plus

Leap Plus 500lbs Rated

Steelcase has recently added a new model to its highly successful Leap office chair range.

The Leap Plus is designed to safely support users weighing up to 500lbs. This represents a significant increase on the capacity of the standard models where the limit is 300lbs.

It's a welcome addition to the range as the vast majority of office chairs don't go above the 300lbs limit which often means heavier built users end up having to find a custom solution.

What's different about the Leap Plus?
In appearance it looks pretty much the same as the standard Leap models, in reality there are some relatively minor dimensional changes.

Here's what's different

  • The overall chair and seat width are 3.75 inches wider
  • The lumbar support goes slightly higher
  • The chair back is 2 inches wider
  • It doesn't recline quite as far as the regular model
  • The gas lift is uprated to carry up to 500lbs

With the changes and uprating it means that the Leap Plus starts at over a $1000, so it's by no means cheap. Nonetheless it is a quality build and with a 10 year warranty on mechanism and gas lift it will last many years.

Availability
You can find out more about the Leap Plus here.

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Thanksgiving Office Chair Sale Offers From Herman Miller, Steelcase And Humanscale

What deals are available?
Herman Miller, Steelcase & Humanscale are all running Thanksgiving Sale Specials with a chance to grab up to an extra 15% off all their office chairs. Miller and Humanscale are offering a 15% saving with Steelcase giving 10%.

This is a great chance to get a top deal on a wide range of high quality ergonomic office chairs

How long do they last?
Each manufacturer’s sale has slightly different dates.

Herman Miller starts their sale today finishing on Monday 12 December 2011
Steelcase starts Thursday 24 November and runs for 1 week until Wednesday 30 November 2011.
Humanscale’s sale starts on Friday 25 November and ends on Monday 12 December 2011

Where can I find the details?
You can find a quick summary of the key points about some of the best chairs on offer using the links below:

Herman Miller Chairs
Aeron chair
Embody chair
Sayl chair
Mirra chair

Steelcase Chairs
Think chair
Amia chair
Leap chair

Humanscale Chairs
Freedom chair
Liberty Chair
Freedom Saddle Seat

So, if you are ready for a new chair this is an excellent opportunity to lock in a great price. Don't leave it too long because the special pricing will soon be finished.

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Steelcase, Knoll & Humanscale Office Chair Fall Sale Extra 15% Until 02 October 2011.

What's the deal?
Knoll, Steelcase & Humanscale are running their Fall Sale Special with a chance to grab an extra 15% off all their office chair ranges. The offer covers their office seating ranges offering a great opportunity to get outstanding prices on some quality ergonomic office seats.

How long does the offer last?
Steelcase and Knoll are running their offers until Sunday 2 October 2011, leaving you 10 days days to take advantage of these special prices. Humanscale’s sale runs a day longer finishing on Monday 3 October 2011.

Where can I find the details?
You can find a quick summary of the key points about the chairs on offer together with where to buy them using the links below:

Steelcase Chairs
Think chair
Amia chair
Leap chair

Knoll Seating
Generation chair
Life chair
Barcelona classic seating

Humanscale Chairs
Freedom chair
Liberty Chair
Freedom Saddle Seat

So, if you looking for a new office chair this is an excellent opportunity to lock in a great price. Don't wait too long though because there’s only 10 days left.

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How eco-friendly is your office chair? Help To Protect Our Planet

There was a documentary on TV last year about the scandalous way in which old computer and electronic equipment is disposed of. It showed how obsolete equipment got loaded into shipping containers and ended up in Africa, India and China.

Here unscrupulous organizations paid local people a pittance to extract valuable metals from the old equipment at great personal risk to themselves. Not only that the toxic waste it all created was frightening as the carcasses of the stripped computers were burnt and hugely harmful chemical clouds got discharged into the atmosphere.

Fortunately, big steps have been taken in recent years to help combat this sort of thing happening with office chairs.

What is an eco-friendly office chair?
An eco-friendly chair is made using materials and components specifically designed to minimize damage to the world’s infrastructure. Typically, you will find these products are made with a high percentage of recycled materials. Not only that, they are also made in such a way that over 90% of the chair will be recyclable at the end of its life.

Fortunately many of the key players in the office seating market are taking the protection of our environment very seriously. These manufacturers go to great lengths to produce chairs that have little or no harmful materials in them.

Consequently when you choose an eco-friendly chair you have the peace of mind that you aren't creating an environmental problem at sometime in the future. How do chair components cause problems to the environment?

Which common office chair components aren’t eco-friendly?
Office chairs that are manufactured irresponsibly actually contain a surprising number of harmful components. The foam used in a lot of chairs is particularly nasty especially when it’s combined with hazardous glues that many suppliers still use.

PVC is a very common chair component that has a harmful effect on our surroundings. Another is chrome where the actual plating process creates some pretty noxious by products.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the case that the most harmful materials are also the cheapest to produce. And so the incentive to be more responsible is often hampered by the desire to remain competitive.

This is particularly true of cheap chairs, which are invariably made to meet a price point and so it becomes a case of anything goes. Regrettably, the only thing that goes is any chance of using safe planet enhancing components. Fortunately the more responsible firms rise above this and are prepared to take a stand and eliminate the harmful stuff wherever possible. In doing so will the performance of their chairs suffer as a result?

Will eco-friendly components affect my sitting comfort?
The good news about using eco-friendly components is they don't in any way compromise on user comfort. In fact, it’s fair to say they actually enhance the user experience and performance of their chairs.

The reason this is possible is because many manufacturers have taken the trouble to develop entirely new ways of making components. As a result instead of just churning out the same old stuff, they have looked at how to do things differently.

And by eliminating traditionally harmful parts they have made it possible to not only be more user friendly but also enhancing the way you work at the same time.

As a result of this drive to produce safer products new materials are now being used in a new and innovative way. In fact many of them didn’t even exist a decade ago. This is all very well, but how do I know the claims made by manufacturers are genuine?

How will I know it’s eco-friendly?
Fortunately there are strict rules for claiming that a product is environmentally friendly requiring certification for qualifying products.

Greenguard is an independent organization and certificates products for the effect they have on indoor air quality.

It all sounds a bit bizarre how can an office chair possibly affect the indoor working environment? Well, we all spend a huge amount of time sitting in offices and air becomes stale as a result. The danger arises when harmful chemicals are released into the air as products made from known problem materials are used.

Unfortunately, it’s a hidden danger and so many don't take it seriously as they can’t see or feel any adverse effects. It’s the long-term cumulative effect that matters.

Once a qualifying chair reaches the end of its life instead of it being pitched into a landfill dump, over 90% of the chair gets re-used. And to make sure that everything is above board there is an ISO standard for it. ISO 14025-EPD is a standard that makes sure products comply with a strict set of rules on end of product life.

So, if a chair claims to be environmentally safe, don't just take the supplier’s word for it. Check out what certification it has to back up its claims.

How you can help to protect yourself and the planet

  • Many chair manufacturers are making eco-friendly seats and deserve your support
  • Recognize that a lot of cheap chairs are made using harmful chemicals and components
  • New materials and ways of making things are continually improving safety and environmental responsibility
  • Look for certification as proof that claims about product performance stand up

As more and more people make the effort to buy environmentally friendly seating, hopefully it will reduce the opportunity for irresponsible people to damage the planet like the computer recyclers.

Here's where you can find more on 3 great chairs from HÅG, Steelcase and Herman Miller that really can make a difference through eco-friendliness. They are also great chairs to work in too.

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Clash Of The Office Furnishings Industry Titans: 2 Major Exhibitions Next Week

Next week sees two major office furnishings exhibitions, one each side of the Atlantic and both well represented with office chairs.

ON chair by Wilkhahn

The Wilkhahn ON Chair

First, Orgatec 2010 in Cologne, Germany runs from 26 – 30 October, it’s held every two years and is Europe's leading office furniture exhibition. Although it covers all facets of the office furnishings market, chairs for the office will be well represented.

Amongst the exhibitors is Wilkhahn and its funky new ON chair looks intriguing. The chair’s revolutionary support system really does move wherever you move and Das Büro magazine voted it the clear winner in an evaluation of 10 different swivel chairs. The ON and other Wilkhahn products can be seen in Hall 6.1 Stand B88/89.

Meanwhile in the US NeoCon East 2010 runs for 2 days on October 28 and 29. In all there are 250 exhibitors at the Baltimore Convention Center, covering a very wide range of Architectural Products, Floor coverings, Furniture, Lighting, Textiles and Wallcoverings.

Despite the wide variety of products office seating plays a leading role as 10% of the exhibitors are office chair companies, including major players like Haworth, Herman Miller, HON, Humanscale, Knoll and Steelcase.

So, whichever side of the pond you are, each exhibition offers an excellent opportunity to see a wide range of office seating at first hand.

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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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Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 2 Steelcase

Today in the second of my replace the office chair turkey posts it's the turn of Michigan giant Steelcase who has been making quality office chairs for decades.

It has literally hundreds of different model variants to choose from and so let's get a bit selective and look at a few of the most popular ones.

As the world's largest office furniture manufacturer Steelcase does a lot of research when developing new products. Typical of this is the Leap® chair which was 4 years in development and the subject of a study over an extended time period resulting in an increase in productivity of 17.80% in one organization. So you can be sure of getting you work done more efficiently and with greater comfort.

Here are links to check out reviews of some of its most popular models.

On Monday I'll have the other US giant Herman Miller in the frame, so be sure to check back then.

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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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