Sit, Rotate, Repeat

We’d all be more inclined to exercise during the workday if it meant not getting up from our desks. So here’s an idea: What if you were to cross an exercise ball with an ordinary task chair? Though it may sound ­preposterous, that’s the concept behind Keilhauer’s new seat, called the Sguig, which won Innovation and Editors’ Choice awards at this year’s NeoCon. But the germ of the idea began back in 1998, when the company’s vice president of marketing, Jackie Maze, recognized the potential of Pilates to address the back pain associated with long-term ­computer use.

Exercise ball in tow, Maze approached the Vienna-based design firm EOOS with the notion of incorporating Pilates principles into a task chair. After seven years of ergonomic studies at two far-flung universities, researchers concluded that due to differences in pelvic rotation, men and women sit differently. “As far as we know, this is the first chair that takes gender differences in seating habits into account,” Maze says. Here Gernot Bohmann, one-third of the EOOS team, gives us a tour of the Sguig, available next spring.

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The warmth of the upholstery patterns, available in twenty colors, makes them ideal for the home or office. All three free-form textures–linear, flower, and dot (shown here)–reflect the chair’s ergonomic movement.

The rubber-encased spring mechanism causes the chair to move with the body, forcing the user to find his or her balance point immediately. Because the chair follows your movement, after a while you forget you’re sitting on a constantly shifting chair.

By pushing a button underneath the armrests, you can rotate them out of the way. This stemmed from a desire to give the user more freedom.

The base is intentionally very flat on top to provide a place to rest your feet. As a result, the proportions are opposite those of a regular office chair: the base is visually very heavy, and the top is very light.

We teamed up with the Technical University of Vienna to diagram the movements of about ten different people sitting during an eight-hour workday. With the same measurement system, we looked at Herman Miller’s Aeron chair and discovered that it moves only five to ten percent of the time you sit on it. Our chair bounces all the time, but with the minutest of movements.

The rigid part of the backrest is ­composed of cast aluminum, providing support where you need it, such as under the pelvis and behind the spine. The other parts are made of Hytrel, a resilient but soft thermoplastic. When you lean back, the left and right sides of the backrest flex away, so you can really open up your chest. We call it “free-shoulder ergonomics.”

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