You are working from home? What are you sitting on?
The soft cushions of a slightly teetering office chair on wheels, ergonomic enough to get through the day pain-free?
Or on something more stylish and (probably) less comfortable?
With more and more people working from home, the pandemic has reinforced a trend that was already discernible before: Manufacturers and designers of office furniture are increasingly occupied with aesthetics rather than only form, and demand for those products is on the rise.
The way people work has changed. "Only now we are understanding that this was not a thing of two, three weeks or months," says Nicolette Naumann, trend analyst for the consumer goods fair Ambiente.
"For many, the home office will continue to exist in the future, at least in part," she says. But many don't have a real office room at home, mostly just a working desk in the corner of the living room.
That's why there is an increased interest in having comfortable chairs for working that reduce the strain on the body from working long hours at a desk – but at the same time look good in a living room or bedroom.
Many don't want a "sitting machine", as trend expert Naumann dubs classical office chairs. "For the home, furniture needs to be homey."
Wobbling at home
The good news is there are more and more alternatives, with two groups emerging. On the one hand, there are the classic working gear manufacturers.
"Office furniture producers have been making very homey, colourful things. The Scandi trend has also moved into the office," Naumann says.
One example for this is the chair Numo by office brand Aeris. It looks like a chair many already have at home, a classic plastic sitting shell, with the difference that a special mechanics on its underside allows for movement that's so important when working at a desk. In this way, you can move forwards and backwards, wheels can be installed at the feet and the seat can turn 360 degrees.
On the other hand, there are regular furniture manufacturers. For example the model Kingscross by NV Gallery has a seat covered by yellow velvet and legs in brass-coloured metal – not much different from any other cushioned chair that has populated people's dining areas in recent times. But it is being sold as an office chair.
There are also office classics sold in atypical colours, turning them into an eye-catcher in the living room. For instance Arper's models Kinesit or Catifa Sensit, available in sunny yellow, bright orange, delicate pink or grass green.
Catifa Sensit is an especially interesting series – after a design by Studio Lievore Altherr Molina – also because it can be used for the working and the living areas of the house.
The chairs can be mounted with wheels or without, with high backs or not, for variants that fit into a relaxing living area or office-style meeting rooms.
All models of the series have a so-called synchro-mechanism which allows for tilting the back to support the lower back, without compromising the chair's elegance.
Series 7 by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen, from 1955, is another design classic that can optically bridge living and working areas. The office chair is available with arm rests and cushions as well as soft wheels, designed not to scratch the floors. Harder wheels for carpet are also available.
Thonet is also going with the times and has upgraded its S43 chair, a design by Mart Stam from 1931, for the needs of the office. The model S43 Atelier turns it into a swivel chair that can be customised with cushions. – dpa