Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

A fresh approach to seating design from Formway Design has resulted in its new Be chair winning a Gold Award at the NeoCon trade show in Chicago this morning (16th June). 

NeoCon is the largest and most important furniture industry trade show in the United States and its awards are both highly coveted and influential in the world commercial furniture market. The 2009 awards were hotly contested, with the Be chair beating offerings from industry heavyweights like Herman Miller and Humanscale to take the top prize.

In the United States the chair has been licensed to leading global furniture company Knoll Inc and is sold under the name Generation by Knoll.

Knoll’s showroom at NeoCon showcased the Formway-design with dozens of chairs stage-lit inside a large window frontage. The chair takes it place in Knoll’s portfolio alongside products from design greats such as Frank Gehry and Mies van der Rohe.

This award follows on from the international success of the LIFE Chair, and firmly cements Formway Design’s standing as an international powerhouse of commercial furniture design.

Be uses a breakthrough combination of materials and features that allow the chair to support the user in multiple work postures. Its innovations include 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.

Even before its official launch, reviewers who had a sneak preview of Be gave the chair rave write-ups.

Maren Jinnett, a writer for US magazine Wired said: “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.”

Formway CEO Alan Buckner says Be is based on thorough research into the many real and natural postures in the workplace which were not 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 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.

In developing Be, Formway carried out in-depth research in workplaces around the world into how people work and what they need to perform at their best.

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.

Footage of the Be chair can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LgJYisCfuM

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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
W: www.formway.com/

Greg Smith

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


A fresh approach to seating design from Formway Design has resulted in its new Be chair winning a Gold Award at the NeoCon trade show in Chicago this morning (16th June).


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