Friday, June 5th, 2009 - Formway

Outstanding design by Formway Furniture is again grabbing the international limelight with the company launching an innovation that heralds a step change in work chair design.

Called BE, the chair will be unveiled at the NeoCon trade show in Chicago in mid June and released in New Zealand and Australia in September. In the United States the chair has been licensed to leading global furniture company Knoll Inc and will be sold under the name Generation by Knoll.

Ahead of its official launch, BE is getting rave write-ups from reviewers who have had a sneak preview of the next generation work chair and its breakthrough combination of materials and features that allow the chair to support the user in multiple work postures.

US magazines Fast Company, Wired and TIME Style and Design have given the chair a strong endorsement for its comfort, flexibility, striking design, durability and sustainability. And, says TIME writer Mengly Taing: “After a week of sitting in the Generation, our regular chair actually felt so confining, so unable to move as we moved and in the way we wanted to, that it was almost like getting back into a straightjacket.” Footage of the chair on you tube is also proving popular with viewers. (

Formway CEO Alan Buckner says the enthusiastic reception for BE shows that, even in a tough climate, innovation delivers success.

“BE is based on thorough research into the many real and natural postures in the workplace, which simply weren’t being supported by existing chairs. Addressing this gap provided both an exciting opportunity and a great challenge.

“The result is a chair that flexes to support the spine while allowing users to move freely and sit how they want. BE allows people to work and communicate effectively and, importantly, to be able to express themselves.”

BE uses multiple innovations including a unique weight compensated recline structure designed to provide smooth, organic movements. That is made possible through a novel system of flexing elements – top, back and seat – rather than traditional mechanical links.

The groundbreaking design features of the chair result from Formway’s use of an advanced elastomer material that has previously been hidden away in high performance environments like vehicle suspension. The elastomer is known for its durability and flexibility and also met Formway’s requirement for materials that are non-toxic and recyclable.

The BE chair continues to express the importance environmental sustainability plays in Formway’s design process. BE incorporates recycled and sustainable materials and is designed for an extended product life, backed by a 10 year warranty. The chair is designed to exceed Australian and New Zealand environmental requirements and has already received a Sustainable Platinum rating under the SMaRT© Sustainable Product Standard for the United States market.

BE builds on the global reputation Formway has carved out for innovative office furniture. The company developed the LIFE chair, which has won numerous international awards, and is now sold in more than 50 countries.

BE also reflects the company’s commitment to in-depth research into how people work and what they need to perform at their best. Formway was able to reach a new understanding of human behaviour in the workplace as a result of carrying out in depth research in contemporary workplaces globally.

Kent Parker, Lead Designer for the BE chair, says the team observed that, regardless of the chair people were sitting on, they continuously attempted to change postures.

“Many common ways of sitting have previously been viewed as unconventional, even incorrect, but they are in fact natural, subconscious human movements used to enhance comfort, communication and self expression.”

CEO Alan Buckner says Formway’s ability to bring its design innovations to the global marketplace is underpinned by its relationship with leading US furniture company Knoll, which was also responsible for the international launch of the LIFE chair.

“Formway has cemented a place in Knoll’s premier contract design studio, a significant achievement considering Knoll’s portfolio includes products from design greats such as Frank Gehry and Mies van der Rohe. It’s a great relationship where Formway gives Knoll world-leading products and Knoll gives Formway international reach and the clout to bring design innovations to market.”

File Library

Contact Profile


Formway is privately owned and operates one of the largest furniture design studios in Australasia. Developing empathetic insights into human behaviour is central to Formway’s user-centred design culture. Coupled with a rigorous design process and sensitivity to aesthetic and environmental considerations, these insights create the platform for new-to-the-world innovation. As a result, the company enjoys a reputation as a world leader in workplace product design.

Products are distributed through a network of showrooms, agents and distribution partners in New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia. The company has a long history of producing award winning furniture, starting with the ZAF chair which won the Prince Phillip Award for excellence in product design in 1989.
Ed Burak
P: +64 4 568 1865
M: +64 275 893 090

Greg Smith

P: +64 4 568 1839
M: +64 27 568 5526


Formway CEO Alan Buckner says the enthusiastic reception for BE shows that, even in a tough climate, innovation delivers success.


More Formats