Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gizmodo Reviews Smart Furniture's 3 Minute Cobi Chair

Steelcase Cobi Designer Puts Your Design Skills Where Your Ass Is By Jason Chen, Gizmodo

The Steelcase Cobi, starting at $400, is unique in that it's a higher-end office chair that you get to customize quite a bit of how it looks--avoiding the late '90s dotcom sea of chairs that look exactly alike.

Here's what you do. Go to the site, then go through the "3 minute" process of choosing the frame color, whether or not you want a stool bit for your feet, whether you want arms, the upholstry color (lots of colors available) and you're done. Depending on what you chose you could be looking at a reasonable $400 chair or a slightly pricier $720.

Steelcase, like Herman Miller, makes fantastic office chairs that prop you up in such a way that you can actually sit for eight hours and not feel pain. Hit the gallery for more shots. [Smart Furniture]

Business Week 47 Silver Winning Designs

Cobi Chair Silver Award Category: Office & Productivity Client: Steelcase (U.S.) Design: PearsonLloyd (U.K.); Steelcase Design Studio (U.S.) This chair came about as a response to collaborative environments and new working methods: team meetings and periods of concentrated sitting. A flexible platform with self-adjusting features was paramount. A rocking mechanism adjusts to people's center of gravity, not their weight. for more: visit Businessweek

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Week With Karen & Cobi

Day Six I can see many of you want your own Cobi! Within minutes of adding it to our website, we began receiving entries for our Tell Us Your Story Cobi Contest! Thank you for your participation so far and for including photos. We've highlighted some favorites, though we are not selecting any winners just yet. The contest runs until August 31 and winners will be announced September 4th. Remember, we want compelling and unique stories of why you need a new chair and why it has to be Cobi. Also, please be aware that your story will also be shared publicly on our website. In fact, some have already been posted. Check out some of these great entries and be inspired!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Week With Karen & Cobi

Day Five How quickly time flies with cobi – already on Day 5. By the way, did I mention cobi ships in 5 days? Actually, it may be changing now to 2 days, which I think is pretty amazingly quick for a chair that you can customize. Just thought I'd toss that out there. I was pretty sore climbing the stairs this morning from a particularly intense kickboxing class recently. Thankfully, I have a supportive and comfortable seat to relieve the stress on my body! The cushioned seat pad is soothing and helps me forget the abuse my backside endured the day before. I am grateful of just how accommodating cobi is, allowing me to sit in multiple positions to stretch my legs. Ahhhh. Thank you, cobi. Since 5 is the magic number today, I thought I'd tell you about our new contest: We are giving away FIVE cobi chairs! To win, you need to convince us why you need cobi. Tell us a compelling or interesting story and what you like about cobi. Extra bonus points if you include some photos, too. Photos can be sent to Can't figure out which color or style of cobi you want to win? Design your own in 3 minutes. Details and rules at Smart Furniture.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Week With Karen & Cobi

Day Four ...with my lovely cobi. Today has begun like a sprint out of the starting blocks. Except for me, that means I'm glued to my chair. The phone is ringing nonstop, and I am multi-tasking like there's no tomorrow. I think I heard someone say the recession is over. Whether or not this is true, I'm pretty excited that cobi is affordable, starting at $399. For all of you design-savvies out there, you will appreciate cobi's delectable colors, Coconut, Root Beer, Wasabi, Tangerine, Basil, Licorice and Malt, to name a few. cobi has also received the prestigious Red Dot design award, an international competition ranked among the largest design competitions worldwide. cobi is beautiful, extremely comfortable and ships free in 5 days. And it's manufactured by Steelcase, a leader in the global office furniture industry, who is committed to protecting the environment and passionate about helping you, "Love How You work®". What more can I say? cobi is perfect. vroom..vroom..

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Week With Karen & Cobi

Day Three Another hectic day filled with phone calls, unplanned (but important) meetings away from my desk and one here in my office. This is lucky, since I have cobi. In meetings, I like to curl one leg up on my seat. With cobi, it feels great. I shift sideways and lean one arm over the seat back. I note how easy and intuitive changing positions is in cobi, the seat back flexing softly under the weight of my arm. Meeting is over. Now, I am seated forward, perched at the front edge of my seat, looking intently at my screen. I have come to recognize this as my "working position," or what others refer to as "being in the zone." During these moments of heightened concentration, I am really focused (and extremely productive, I might add). With cobi's flexible seat front, I don't even have to think about how I sit – I am simply comfortable. In contrast, my regular office chair is sub-standard, hard-edged, unsupportive and non-conforming. It is the opposite of ergonomic. Work is often interrupted by the resulting numbness and pressure against my legs. It then takes several minutes to find a comfortable position. Maybe I'll try to curl my leg up on the seat again. Or maybe I should lean back. I could try sitting forward... Maybe I need my own cobi.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Week With Karen & Cobi - Day 2

Day Two I'm in love with cobi. It's comfortable and the texture and fabric are delightful. It breathes well. I find the Maya Blue color appealing, it makes me happy. It's so fresh and makes me think of summer. Someone here commented that I looked like a "ray of sunshine" sitting in the chair. In contrast to my beaming descriptions of cobi, today has been somewhat of a stressful day. I'm actually slouching in my seat. Thanks to cobi, my poor posture is being supported and probably improved. When I plop down to sit, cobi's weight activated mechanism senses and quickly adjusts to give me a lift. When I need it most, cobi provides satisfying support, conforming and comforting me as I grudgingly push through the day. Thank you cobi, for being there.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Week With Karen & Cobi - Day 1

Day One "Karen, there's a big fat package from Steelcase for you down here". Before I could even think to respond to my co-worker's message, I was bounding down the stairs. I called out, "It's cobi!!!", and began tearing open the box. I had been anticipating the arrival of our cobi chair ever since I first laid eyes on it. cobi's sleek and playful Apple-like design, luscious colors and welcoming arms beckon me to sit. And that's what I did. Many of my co-workers will attest they saw me pushing myself around the office (not at my desk), smiling and spinning around like a little kid. "Look! cobi is here!" I would declare, as I pushed myself backwards past someone's office. After 30 minutes, I allowed others to try cobi, since I would have the privilege of sitting in it for a week. Meet cobi. It is the newest and most colorful addition to Steelcase's seating collection. Designed specifically to promote movement during long periods of sitting time, cobi provides comfortable support no matter what you're doing, or how you sit. I shift a lot when it comes to my work style so I think cobi is going to be a great fit. During an average work day, I may be on the phone with clients, working on a 3D rendering or designing catalogs and email campaigns. The stiffness in my neck and shoulders after a long day clearly indicate that I am not using a properly supportive chair. cobi works intuitively to accommodate and support any seating position so anyone can get comfortable quickly. I'm looking forward to testing it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Matt's Leap Week

Last Day It’s Wednesday around lunch time, which means the week is about halfway over for me. The Leap Week, however, draws to a close. As I sit here, reflecting on my time sitting in the Leap Chair by Steelcase, I’m pounding coffee because I watched the Harry Potter opening at midnight last night and didn’t get to sleep until three o’clock in the morning. The movie was beyond awesome- many magnitudes better than any previous Harry Potter movie, and this sentiment was shared by many other Potter fans in the packed theater in downtown Chattanooga (this is relevant to the Leap Chair, I promise). It was a lot of fun seeing an eagerly anticipated movie with one or two hundred other folks, except for the fact that all those bodies generated loads of body heat. So much so in fact, that the seat I paid many dollars for felt like it had a heating vent under it. I found myself squirming more and more as the film progressed, and my thoughts managed to find their way to the ever-so-comfortable Leap Chair, which is equipped with a breathable polyester-blend fabric that makes your sweat glands go into a coma. I hate sweating when I work, which is one reason I chose a Bungie Chair when I started working at Smart Furniture. Sitting on rows of spaced bungie cords gives me plenty of ventilation from my shoulders to my knees, so it’s great in that respect. When I switched to the Leap Chair, one concern I had was that the fabric wouldn’t breathe like the Bungie Chair; fortunately, Leap proved up to the task. The texture of the back and seat feels slightly soft yet rough; not rough in a bad way, simply not smooth like leather (I haven’t sat in the leather version). Anyway, something about this texture breathes very well and has made the temperature between me and the chair a non-factor. I wish I could have somehow had the Leap Chair to enjoy Harry Potter in. That would have made it even better. So that does it for my Leap Chair review. I hope the critique was insightful and informative. As for me, I’m going to behave as if my review week continues indefinitely and keep the chair right where it is. Until next time…

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Matt's Leap Week

Day Four It’s Tuesday- not yet hump day for the working world, but hump day for me in that I’m on day three of five of my Leap Chair review. It’s the penultimate day of my review; after tomorrow the powers that be will strip me of my Steelcase chair and I’ll go back to sitting in the ol’ bungie chair. Don’t get me wrong- the bungie chair is great, but it doesn’t provide the overall comfort level or have all the nifty features that the Leap Chair has. For instance- the arms… The Leap’s arms don’t just go up and down, they move in a bunch of different directions, and they do it without requiring any exertion on the part of the user. To move up and down, just press a button below the arms, and then release it to lock the arms at the desired height. They also go forward and backward, and this requires no button at all. Not only that- they swivel left and right too! You can move the arms north, south, east, and west with just a slight push, and then use those optimally positioned arms to rest your..arms..I use a keyboard and monitor at my desk (as opposed to a laptop), and I like to move around depending on what I need to be closer to- my phone or my giant pile of mess on the other side of my desk. The point is that I constantly reposition my keyboard, which requires me to constantly reposition my arms; being able to move the Leap Chair’s arms in three dimensions keeps me comfortable, and probably does good things for my shoulders and spine too. Three dimensions- that’s as good as it gets, plain and simple. It’ll be years before they have a chair whose arms move in more dimensions than that. Only then it won’t be called a chair- it’ll be called a time machine. Ok I’m getting back to whatever it is I was doing before the muse took hold…

Monday, July 13, 2009

Matt's Leap Week

Day 3 It’s the third day of sitting in the Leap Chair, and I seem to have reached the point where I want one. I visit our studio (ie store) often and always spend a few minutes sitting in as many things as possible (since I can choose from premium quality office chairs) before doing whatever it is I’ve gone over there to do, and I pretty much always want whatever it is I’m sitting in at the moment. But now I really, really, want the Leap Chair. For real. I figured out that the one thing I thought was lacking can be adjusted. When I reclined as far as I could my lower back felt unsupported, which seemed kind of odd as the lower back needs lots of support in order for the chair to be comfortable. Leap has a support band that spans the width of the back, but it didn’t go down as far as I wanted it to. Until now. It turns out that I’m a weakling and just needed to use more effort to move the lumbar support as far down the chair as possible, so now my entire back is covered and feels really comfortable. And that makes me happy. Another bragging point for Steelcase is the number of places that the Leap Chair’s pivots. The back reclines smoothly, and the level of resistance is ultra-adjustable- ranging from “Effortless Recline” to “He-Man Couldn’t Budge It.” Once you’re reclined, however, you can keep moving; the back itself pivots against the chair’s frame, making it easy to take a nice long stretch, or stare right up at the ceiling, if that’s what you want to do. For me, this is advantageous because when I listen to my iPod at my desk I like to bob my head up and down, and the flexibility of Leap’s upper half lets me extend this pleasant bobbing motion down my back, so I can kind of pretend that I’m dancing while seated. I’m sure the image that comes to mind is not as cool as I make it sound, but I guarantee it looks cooler than me dancing fully upright. That would belong on Fail blog or an equally disgraceful website.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Matt's Leap Week

Day Two …of sitting in the Leap Chair was a far greater test than day one - a solid nine hours and change of chair time was in the works. Now that time is closer to two hours and I have to say that Leap has performed very well. I picked up on a couple of subtleties that I missed yesterday, and they do make a difference when spending an entire day in the chair. The first is the cushioning effect you feel when you sit down in the chair with all your weight. The cylinder (the part that attaches the chair to the base) has some shock-absorbing mechanism so you never really feel the impact of your backside hitting the seat. It reminds me of when you’re driving your car and you stop at a red light. When you see the light turn red you can do one of two things - you can really hit the brakes until your car comes to a complete stop, which causes your torso to lean forward for a second before your back returns to the car seat in a jarring fashion, or you can gently hit the breaks and lightly release them the moment before your car stops, which accomplishes the goal of the complete stop without any jarring movement of your person. The former technique is favored by most seventeen-year olds, taxi-drivers, and many, many Europeans. The latter technique is favored by, well, sensible people who enjoy a comfortable halt in their automobile. I know sitting down in a chair is a different movement than leaning forward in your automobile, but the sensation is similar. So if you fall into the latter category of sensible drivers you might like the Steelcase Leap Chair. It really does reduce the amount of force your back and butt experience when you sit down. No lie - if it didn’t I wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of the red light analogy. It looks like I’ve written sufficiently about this one benefit of Leap for today. Until tomorrow …

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Matt's Leap Week

Day One So it's Thursday at Smart Furniture and I've been rocking spreadsheets like it's my job. Rocking spreadsheets *is* my job (or part of it), so no surprises there. What was a surprise was the opportunity to test one of our new office chairs from Steelcase - the Leap Chair. Not only does this give me the chance to sit in what I can already tell is a pretty sweet office chair for at least a week, it also gives me the opportunity to show off my creative writing skills! That doesn't mean I have any experience writing commentary of this sort or imply that my creative writing skills are above average, nor does it ensure that I have the capability to deliver to you, the reader, an unbiased review of a chair that I would love for you to buy. But it does mean that I get the chance to share my thoughts in a candid forum as honestly as I can and hopefully assist some shoppers in their chair-purchasing decisions. It also means that when I’m writing I’m not looking at any spreadsheets! Already, the Leap Chair makes a difference. I usually sit in the Bungie Chair, which seems to be the default at the Smart Furniture office. It's a great chair; but it's definitely lacking in some areas. Most notably, there's no pivoting mechanism between the seat and the back, so when you lean back your legs go up in the air, which means that your legs aren't supported, and your knees start to feel weird. I love to lean back, and I have bad knees, so that's a problem. As you may have guessed, this is not an issue with the Leap Chair. When I first sat down in it, I noticed that the back flexes while your legs stay parallel to the ground. Of course I had to make some adjustments; as I mentioned earlier, I love to lean back, so I adjusted the lower back firmness to a very relaxed setting. This let me tilt as far back as I wanted, but my butt started to slip over the edge of the seat when I was fully reclined. Fortunately, this was quickly remedied when I adjusted the seat depth. Most office chairs that have this option rely on a rolling mechanism at the front of the seat that actually increases how long the seat is, but not with Steelcase. The Leap Chair’s seat actually slides forward and backward, and you can make adjustments even when sitting down in it (with one hand, no less). The only downside is that when you’re sliding backwards, you have to grip the casters with your feet to prevent the entire chair from moving. With the seat depth adjusted to fit yours truly, the Leap Chair felt great in a reclined position. So I stayed that way for a good chunk of the afternoon. My back feels good as the day is drawing to a close, and I’m looking forward to spending the entire workday with Leap tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Herman Miller Chosen for 2009 Sustainable Business 20 List

Herman Miller is one of 20 global companies that are "changing the world for the better," according to The company is featured for the sixth time in the Sustainable Business 20 list as one of the "World's Top Sustainability Stocks," which includes companies with strong environmental initiatives and solid financial performance. It also is highlighted this year as a Corporate Pioneer because of its continued commitment to innovation for the sustainable design of its products and services during an uncertain economy—an aspect that is increasingly viewed as a sign of management excellence. The eighth annual list is included in Progressive Investor, a publication of that tracks and analyzes green stocks. "Our goal is to create a list that showcases public companies that, even over the past most difficult year, have made substantial progress in either greening their internal operations or growing a business based on an important green technology," says Rona Fried, Ph.D., CEO of and editor of Progressive Investor. Six of the world's leading green portfolio analysts select companies that contribute substantially to the advance of a sustainable economy through their products or initiatives. The entire Sustainable Business 20 list may be viewed at