Jonathan Hindle on current trends in workplace seating
When selecting seating for workplaces, we are seeing the market fall roughly into two camps. The first is looking for stylish, ergonomic seating but are cost-focused and see seating as an accessory. The smaller but growing group recognise that appropriate seating is the most important furnishing decision they can make. They are mindful of cost but are near-obsessed with function, and rightly so. No longer dictating how people should use their work environments, these companies meticulously analyse how their people naturally work, how they want to work - this in turn determines which chair is selected.
A feature chair in the reception area, for example, is there to make a statement about the company’s identity, its brand. It does not need to provide ergonomic comfort and durability for round-the-clock shift workers. Our revival of KI’s 1960’s classic Jubi chair is a response to the demand for heritage products, an apparent “Instagram-ification” of the 21st-century office. A chair that would look at home in Don Draper’s office is now finding its way into the reception of an innovative tech start-up.
This year KI’s Faveo family of seating is introducing new fabrics with integrated foam, to be fitted on the same frame as the existing mesh version. This meets the demand for new aesthetics and enhanced comfort while remaining competitively priced. However, the really exciting developments are being driven by demand from innovative companies who are seeing employee wellbeing as a driver of productivity, and therefore putting it at the forefront of their seating decisions. And it seems to be working – these companies dominate lists of the most desirable companies to work for. These smart companies are bracing themselves for the influx of Generation-Y and Millenials, a tech-savvy generation on the go, in need of variety during their workday and flexibility rather than the traditional 9-5. Perhaps this is demonstrable in the proliferation of our ToggleSE sit-stand desks at global tech giants. It has brought about the creation of a hybrid of a task chair and stool to match the versatility of a work surface that is no longer static.