Branded Office Chairs Part 7: Varier Top 3 – Variable, Wing and Thatsit

In this week's post on branded chairs we're taking a look at an alternative type of chair, the kneeling chair. Over the past 33 years Varier (and Stokke before it) has pioneered the concept of the kneeling chair.

It has worked closely with seating designer Peter Opsvik to produce a range of excellent chairs which challenge the normally accepted views on what makes a good office seat.

It all goes back to 1979 with the introduction of Opsvik's Variable Balans knee chair. So let's begin by looking at it now.

Variable Balans
This was the chair that started the kneeling chair revolution.

Variable Balans kneeling chair

Variable Balans Kneeling Chair In Red

The design is based on a curved rocking chair style frame, however instead of sitting in it like a chair the user places their shins on the front kneeling pads.

The idea behind the design is that it places your body in a much more open and healthy posture allowing good circulation.

Not only that the curved frame allows the user to use it in many different ways. As well as kneeling forwards in the chair you can also sit back in it too. The whole idea is to encourage movement as you work, instead of the the fixed angle of an office chair.

You can even place one or both feet on the floor, there are just so many ways to sit in the Variable Balans. Maybe you want to think something through. Why not use it as a rocking chair and pause and reflect as you rock in it gently?

It's now also available with a backrest too which acts as a support when reclining.

The next development in kneeling seat design came with the introduction of the Wing Balans.

Wing Balans
The Wing first appeared in 1983 and in many ways takes a more conventional approach in its design.

Wing Balans kneeling chair

Wing Balans Kneeling Chair In Black Fabric

It has a 5 star swivel base similar to those found on office task chairs.

The main advantage of this addition is it makes it more mobile when working at a desk. Users can quickly get around their work area by moving their feet to reposition the chair.

Despite this it is still essentially a kneeling chair. You rest your shins on its forward shin support. This support is adjustable allowing different heights of user to set it to the optimum position for comfortable working.

Another thing you will find with the Wing is it has a great cushioning effect as you sit in it. This is made possible by the integration of heavy duty rubber buffers on the underside of the seat. These give the chair a natural springiness making it very relaxing in use.

Let's move on to a more recent model the Thatsit Balans.

Thatsit Balans
In many ways the Thatsit which first appeared in 1991. looks a lot like the Variable as it's built around a similar style of frame.

Thatsit Balans kneeling chair

Thatsit Balans Kneeling Chair In Black Fabric

In reality it's actually quite a bit different, despite first impressions.

To start with the frame is larger. And the shin pads are adjustable in height for individual user comfort. Not only that they pivot making it possible to sit much further forwards in the seat.

It also has an adjustable back which makes it great for reclining and relaxing when you feel like it. You can quickly adjust both the height and depth of the back position. And the shape of the back support is designed so that you can rest your elbows on it when reclining.

And in keeping with the Varier concept of healthy movement, you can even sit on it backwards and rest your arms on the shaped back. All in all it's a deceptively versatile chair in use.

Summary

  • Variable Balans was the original commercial kneeling chair and is one of Varier's most popular products
  • Variable places the body in a healthy open posture
  • Wing is a great chair for moving around your work area
  • Wing's cushioning rubber buffers make it very comfortable in use
  • Thatsit shin pad adjusters make it easy to sit forwards and still remain very stable
  • Thatsit's back makes it a great choice for reclining as you sit

Further information
Here are the links to the full reviews:

And here are links to the six previous articles in this series:

  1. Herman Miller top 3 branded office chairs
  2. Steelcase top 3 branded office chairs
  3. Humanscale top 3 branded office chairs
  4. HÅG top 3 branded office chairs
  5. Neutral Posture top 3 branded office chairs
  6. Knoll top 3 branded office chairs

 

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Changes to the Varier Wing™ Balans® Kneeling Chair Mean Less Choice In The Future

wing balans knee chair

Varier Wing™ Balans® Kneeling Chair

Varier’s Wing™ Balans® chair is considered by many to be the most comfortable kneeling chair available today. Its special features make for a different sitting experience compared to other knee chairs.

First, when you sit on it you’ll notice it doesn’t feel harsh and instead yields softly so it doesn’t jar your body. This is due to a novel rubber flexor connection between seat and gas lift. The result is a comforting damper effect, rather than a hard landing.

Second the knee pads are adjustable, so you can set it up for your exact needs and comfort.

  

What is changing with the Wing™ Balans®?
Previously the chair was only offered with a wooden base and this came in natural, black or dark brown lacquer finish. Varier has now introduced a plastic base as well.

Why has the new base been introduced?
The addition of a plastic base was made primarily due to cost. And there is no doubt this has made a substantial difference to the price of the Wing™ Balans® as it cost $200 less if you choose to go with the plastic base.

What will happen in the future?
Although you have the choice of selecting either the wood base options or plastic at present, Varier plans to stop production of the wood bases. And so it’s likely they won’t be around for much longer. Even though the wooden bases are much better looking they do add an additional 36% to the cost of the chair. So you can understand Varier’s thinking on this.

I feel it’s a shame that the ability to opt for a wooden base won’t last much longer. And in fact the dark brown base is already on back order. So, if you are thinking of buying a Wing™ Balans® and like the wood base it’s probably best to do so sooner rather than later.

For more on the Wing™ Balans®
Here's where you will find a review of this excellent kneeling chair and this online seating specialist currently offers all versions of the Wing™ chair.

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