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Steelcase Gesture Chair

Inspired by new ergonomic research and designed for the way technology is used in today's workplace

by Josh Rubin in Design on 19 February 2014

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The way we sit at our desks has changed over the years, which is no surprise considering the increased range and form of our daily tools. Desktop computer screens are bigger, laptops are smaller and now there are tablets and mobile phones in the mix. Workplace innovator Steelcase recognized this shift and conducted a global posture study—and the Gesture work chair is the first design informed by this research.

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Over 2,000 people in 11 countries participated in the study, which found that new technologies have led to nine habitual postures that aren't adequately addressed by current seating designs, and which result in some painful consequences. Texting for long periods of time, for example, without arm support leads to shoulder strain, and because the phone isn't in the natural line of sight, also neck pain. For regular laptop users, you might recognize the "Strunch" (stretched out-hunch) posture. It's common for users to push laptops further and further away the more fatigued they become, which places increased strain on the back and requires additional support, or the back, arm, wrist, neck, and shoulder are all susceptible to injury.

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Working off of these observations, Steelcase developed the Gesture chair as a smart solution to the "mid-day office slump." Its key features are synchronized back and seat movement (mimicking our own body's synchronized back and legs) and extremely flexible arm rests (both horizontally and vertically) and seat. I’m guilty of the "Take It In" while reading and watching videos and found the Gesture to be extremly comfortable and supportive of my slouch.

"The human body doesn't want to remain in one posture all day," says lead designer James Ludwig. "It wants to be fluid and supported dynamically, and that's a big challenge. It caused us to fundamentally rethink how we do a chair." The Global Posture Study is ongoing and the data is available in real time.

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The Steelcase Gesture Chair retails for $979 and comes in an array of different fabric colors; you can purchase it online from the Steelcase Store.

Photo by Nara Shin, product imagery and illustrations courtesy of Steelcase

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