Client: Steelcase

Sector: Furniture

Launch: 2008

The Cobi chair, designed by PearsonLloyd together with Steelcase Design Studio, is one of the first to tackle how a chair should behave in a collaborative work environment.

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PearsonLloyd and Steelcase observed that workers are increasingly moving around the office from one discussion to another; in settings varying from ad hoc hallway meeting points to touchdown settings and conference rooms. At the time,the chairs that filled these spaces were either traditional side-chairs, which lack the required performance characteristics, or over-mechanised task chairs. Cobi sought to provide a new type of chair for this environment.

The design studio and Steelcase noticed that workers in collaborative spaces don’t adjust their chairs; they make do. In response, the team developed a new rocking mechanism that has no need for controls. The mechanism works rather like a swiss ball, encouraging the worker to maintain a good posture using his or her balance rather than forcing the user into position with springs. This makes the chair excellent for use in meeting rooms: the team observed that people change posture a lot when they collaborate to fight fatigue, follow a presenter, and to actively engage with others. While most task chairs enable a linear movement up and down, and back and fourth, Cobi offers support whichever way a user moves: rolling from side to side as well as linear movement. The chair’s back – which has fingers that flex like a second ribcage, adjusting to different back shapes – supports the worker as he or she moves. The result is so comfortable that no padding is required.

Cobi is also incredibly efficient: it uses the minimum material necessary, all components can be separated for recycling at the end of the product’s life to minimise its environmental impact, and it is cradle to cradle certified.