Office chairs haven’t really changed all that much since the 1990s, and current offerings aren’t really suited to meet the needs of today’s hybrid modern worker who likely uses a variety of devices with their body contorted in a myriad of positions throughout the day. But Steelcase is looking to revolutionize the humble office chair with their latest design, Karman, an office chair that’s built for the 21st-century worker.
Steelcase conducted research in 2019 and found that 40% of workers need to change postures frequently because of physical discomfort — a number that has likely gotten worse with the new remote work reality and prevalence of Zoom meetings. So the office chair experts set out to do something about it, and Karman is what they came up with. Karman is the next evolution of the classic mesh-back office chair, as it is designed to move naturally with the body while eliminating the pressure points that are generated by other chairs. It does this in a few ways. First, Karman has replaced traditional mesh with a proprietary new textile called Intermix that evenly distributes weight, is flexible yet supportive, and will never sag or feel stiff. The material is combined with a lightweight flexible frame that eliminates all hard edges and allows users to sit any way they want. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Karman features a patented hybrid seat structure that combines Intermix with integrated cushioning and suspends them over the flexible frame, further eliminating the pressure caused by sitting for extended periods. It all adds up to a nature-inspired design that moves organically with whoever’s sitting in it, eliminating the pain that accompanies uncomfortable positions in traditional office chairs.
Since it’s such a forward-looking product, the Karman was designed with sustainability in mind. The chair weighs just 29 lbs. and is constructed using sustainable materials and the least number of components necessary. No price has been announced for the chair as of yet, but Steelcase expects the Karman to go on sale in early 2022.
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