Designers across disciplines often cite “nature” as their inspiration, whether it’s in the natural world’s effortless lines and curves or the recognition that even simple organisms can function efficiently. All of that is at work in Steelcase SILQ, a new and radically simple task chair designed for the modern office worker.
Ten years in the making, the SILQ chair is the brainchild of James Ludwig, Vice President of Global Design and Engineering at the Michigan-based office furniture manufacturer. When Ludwig first conceived the concept, he was interested in creating a chair that worked more like plant tendrils than a complex machine with many parts.
But according to Ludwig, his vision wasn’t “technically possible” until he finally landed on using carbon fiber, a much-buzzed-about material that’s been gaining traction in the aerospace and automotive fields. Valued for its high strength and flexibility but low weight, carbon fiber was used for the first prototype of the SILQ.
Perhaps the most compelling distinction between SILQ and the competition is that that it only has 30 parts, compared to over 200 parts typically found in fully adjustable task chairs. And it has only one lever for adjusting the height. The big idea here, the company claims, is that the chair’s material properties and designer curves become the mechanism in which it “intuitively” responds to the user’s posture and stature.
To be released in North America this spring, SILQ will be available in both carbon fiber ( which is notoriously expensive) and—this is the other big component of the unveil—a patent-pending performance polymer that behaves like carbon fiber but is easier to produce and at a fraction of the cost. This new material helps bring the starting price of SILQ down to $970 a piece. The SILQ chair will be released in Europe, Middle East, and Africa in Fall 2018.