How To Find The Perfect Height For An Office Chair

adjusting executive chairs Rarely is there a solution so simple that can bring benefits so great and yet it’s either unknown or ignored in almost every office.  A few moments reading this and acting on the tips can prevent weeks, or even months, of pain and discomfort.

According to the American Chiropractic Association an improperly adjusted chair can cause you a multitude of problems including lower-back pain, carpal-tunnel syndrome and even rotator cuff strain in your shoulder—and that just for a chair that’s too low. A chair that’s set too high can lead to Golfer’s Elbow, which is pain and inflammation on the inside part of the elbow.

Are you ready to adjust your chair—and then teach your co-workers?  The first step is to get up on your feet and stand in front of your chair (with the chair facing you, see the illustration). Now, adjust the height so the highest point of the seat is just below your knee cap. With the chair seat at this height, your feet ought to be flat on the floor with your back upright. If everything is correct, your knees will be at a 90 degree angleperfect chair height

Once your chair is set to the optimum height you may notice that some other parts of your workstation are not ergonomic.

Desktop height

You should be able to easily fit your legs under the top of the desk and move them around comfortably.  If you’re bumping the underside of the desk then your desk is probably too low for a proper fit for you.  Have the desk raised with some type of risers or take the opportunity to find a new desk that that is the correct height.

Keyboard height

It’s not uncommon to get the chair to the ideal height only to find you have to raise your arms to reach the keyboard. That means your work surface is too high and your arms will quickly tire.  See if there is a way to lower the top of the desk or workstation.  Some find it helpful to install a pull-out keyboard tray that swivels and/or tilts. If a keyboard tray is not in the plans you may adjust the chair height so your elbows are at the same level of your desktop.  That may make your seat too high for your feet to comfortably reach the floor.  If that’s the case use a footrest that allows your feet to sit flat on the footrest.

You can see more information for ergonomic workstation setup at


The Outdoor Office: Is It Just Pie in the Sky?



We hear it over and over. We say it ourselves. The economic crisis, digital advancements and ecological concerns have changed the world. So much so, we refer to it as a paradigm shift: a line in the sand; before and now.

This in turn has dramatically affected where and how we do business. Open space and collaborative concepts, stronger LEED participation, office furniture embedded with capabilities to automatically charge our many mobile devices and the ability to work from virtually anywhere are just a few of the adaptations in place today.

So, is it really too far-fetched to think that offices would possibly move outdoors, with furniture and structure needs to follow? That’s what Jonathan Olivares, a New York-based designer whose products define a culture of function that is specific to today’s activity and technology, wanted to know.

In testing the waters with furniture manufacturers, Olivares’ hypothesis was met with resistance. An interview with Kelsey Cambell-Dollaghan for Co.Design revealed,

“When I first began the project I discussed it with some office and outdoor furniture manufacturers, but none were sold on the idea because it fell outside of their typical product categories–for the office furniture companies it was too “outdoor,” and for outdoor furniture producers it was too “office.”

However, The Outdoor Office, a three-year research project, became a reality thanks to a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, whose mission is to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.

The Outdoor Office–The Art Institute of Chicago, February 25 through October 14, 2012

Olivares hopes the exhibit portraying realistic examples at The Art Institute of Chicago will build consumer interest prompting the office furniture manufacturers to at least begin thinking in that direction.

The Outdoor Office project presents three distinct scenarios which are shown below for working and studying outdoors:

    1. group meeting,
    2. individual working alone
    3. small classroom


1) Group Meeting


2) Individual Working Alone


3) Small Classroom


Why Outside?

Tim Parsons, writer for domas magazine notes that Olivares’ said a “chain of logical conclusions” supported his quest. For instance how much time is spent working outdoors in relation to how much good weather is enjoyed in many parts of the world. How being outdoors helps us think better. Not to mention the potential decrease in a company’s carbon footprint.

Is There a Market For Working Outdoors?

Parsons noted that Olivares tells of cycling through an area of parkland in the centre of Harvard University in Spring 2010 and seeing Fermob steel chairs placed there for the first time.

“At first you’d only see people out there taking the sun in, but slowly you started to see laptops. By the time the chairs had been there one year we went to take photographs because everybody was out there, professors, students, on their laptop in the shade, working away. This said to us, there may be no perceived market but there is definitely a market.”

What are your thoughts? Will working outdoors ever become common practice? How long will it take?



NeoCon 2012 Video Highlights, Part Two

Below are more video highlights of the show, thanks to NeoCon. Enjoy!



1) Shawn Green introduces KI’s new Lightline™ Movable Wall system dedicated to the enhance of light that delivers a storefront aesthetic that is not sick built. It is totally preassembled making it incredibly easy to work with during initial installation as well as for reconfiguring. He mentions that panels can be removed without disturbing adjacent panels and how it is compatible with their already popular Genius® system. It even offers limitless visual runs without vertical posts. Check it out below.


2) Jonathan Prestwich, designer for Allermuir, talks about the design inspiration of the Mayze Collection, a new lounge and conference chair series. Mayze was born from an ambition to develop a new material and structure to a maximum comfort with the minimum of materials. Prestwich explains in the video below in detail how he created this Gold Award winning chair by considering the image, comfort and the materials used in the chair.


3) Camira Fabrics has taken one of humankind’s oldest cloths and made it new again. Paul Bennotti, Ian Burn & Simon Whittaker discuss Camira Fabrics’ most sustainable product to date, Hemp, a gorgeous wool-hemp blend. Grown under license in UK farms, they extract the fiber from the stem of the plants, then blend the hemp fiber with pure new wool, spin it into yarn and weave into a gorgeous fabric that comes in 25 wonderful colors. Check it out below.


4) Tim Buchenberger & Rick Joutras of Qdesign give insight below into their design thinking for Thonet’s new modular seating group, MOSS | 3. Multiple postures, ease of specification and reconfigurability make this product a must-see. Using green solutions and only three simple shapes: the cube, a rectangle and an “L,” the configurable possibilities are endless.


In case you missed it, you can view Part One videos here. What were some of your favorite findings at NeoCon12?

NeoCon 2012 Video Highlights: Part One



Source: via KI on Pinterest


As a result of the economy, technological advancements and environmental focuses, the world of business has changed and continues to do so. These paradigm shifts have transformed the way we work and that has in turn affected the workplace.  NeoCon annually gathers some of the greatest minds, designers and manufacturers of the world in Chicago to reveal how office furnishings are ensuring businesses can keep up with the transitions.

NeoCon 2012 was no exception.  New concepts in furniture, wall panels and flooring, among many, many other items were on display to kick off the coming year.

Below are some of the video highlights of the show, thanks to NeoCon. Enjoy!

1) OFS believes that products should harmonize the space as opposed to working against it. In this short video, Doug Shapiro illustrates how OFS is bridging the gap between furniture and technology. Check out the conference table that actually serves as a speaker as well.


2) Mohawk Group identified four top social macro-trends increasingly impacting the way we work, play and interact. From Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) and “Rurban” to Spiritualism and Generations, Mohawk translated these trends into new carpet collections and commissioned four design industry celebrities—to offer their own design interpretations using Mohawk’s NeoCon showroom as their canvas. The video below shows top American designer, Todd Oldham’s use of Mohawk’s D.I.Y. collection at NeoCon 2012 aptly putting design back in the hands of the designer.


3) Arcadia Contract recognizes changes in the workplace have changed the way we work. More bluntly they claim that typical cubicles, case goods and chairs simply are not cutting it. Today it is about “getting work done” and that translates to “people meeting with people.” David Logsdon talks here about Arcadia’s solution for seating and meeting: the Domo Collection by Qdesign. Check out the Domo lounge for sharing, the Domo table for interacting and solving problems and Domo benches with versatile configurations.


4) With it’s focus on comfort, durability, and compactness, Sedia Systems introduced JumpSeat™ for auditorium and stadium seating. Wilson Troup shows here how these chairs, created by Ziba Design, are just 4″ in profile and its innovation is in the slats similar to the human backbone when folding it down.


5) It’s always fun to learn what has inspired furniture designs. Hear Wolfgang Mezger, designer for Davis, explain how an “envelope” sparked the innovation of their newly introduced C. R. Lounge, an individual classical lounge program.


6) Joe Sultan of Chilewich introduces a new revolutionary tile backing system they developed in conjunction with Velcro®. Called BioFelt™, it is PVC-free, made from 80% recycled and renewable content and is easily removable without a trace.



Okay, this is not a video, but KI sponsored a photo contest titled. #NeoConography encouraging everyone to submit images from the NeoCon 2012 conference. Not sure who won the contest, but I think we are all winners to be able to see so many varied perspectives of the conference. Check it out here!


What were some of your favorite finds at NeoCon12?

Choosing Office Coverings: The Fabric of Our Work Lives

Choosing office coverings can be both exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. You begin to see life being breathed into a room through the harmony of colors and textures. Yet, the thousands upon thousands of options can often be paralyzing.

By defining your needs and organizing the possibilities, you can narrow the search. Below are just a few things to consider to help make your selections more manageable and optimize your time spent with your designer.

So where do you start?

To begin with, coverings are normally referred to as textiles and/or fabrics. But don’t let this confuse you. Typically, the term “fabric” is associated with furniture upholstery. Most likely because it is raw in nature, the term “textile” is usually used to reference to most everything else including the windows, walls and floors. Admittedly, the terms are also used interchangeably at times. It might help to simply think “coverings.”

There are typically four main areas of the room that require some type of covering whether you are replacing or complementing them – the walls, furniture, windows and floors.

Once you know what you are covering, it’s easier to determine the specific requirements you might have for the fabrics and/or textiles. For further refinement, you could classify coverings into two broad categories:

  1. Special Use Fabrics/Textiles
  2. General Purpose Fabrics/Textiles


1. Special Use Fabrics/Textiles

Some coverings have unique qualities that make them purposeful in certain environments. Defining your needs helps eliminate some of the options.

  • Stain Repellant – These coverings resist liquids better than most. Krypton is still quite popular as a topically applied solution. But products such as Nanosphere and Nanotex have become popular in recent years. These products use woven-in nanotechnology to prevent stains that now take hours to set in, instead of minutes. Clean up is a breeze.
  • Acoustical – These coverings absorb sound waves, making them perfect for noisy or high-traffic environments. Great for walls and floors.
  • Antimicrobial – These coverings help prevent the spread of germs and are commonly used throughout hospitals and other healthcare environments.
  • Flame Retardant – These coverings prevent fires from spreading quickly by resisting flames. Specialized materials such as Trevira CS and Alcantara® are commonly used for drapery in hospitals because they easily pass FR (fire rating) codes for vertical use.


2. General Purpose Fabrics/Textiles

The options for upholstery are virtually endless. Here is a list of some of the main categories of upholstery options you can expect to find when buying or specifying furniture. Choosing the type is a result of knowing not only your needs, but how you want the room to take shape aesthetically, too.

  • Woven – Materials include wool, nylon, cotton, polyester (typically used as panel fabric), linen, viscose, rayon and silk. These materials come in most every color imaginable. When starting off, you or your designer will have to determine if you want solid, tone-on-tone, or multicolored. You’ll also have a choice of patterns, including:

• abstract or geometric
• stripes
• textures
* Keep in mind, it’s also possible to have custom images printed on certain fabrics.

  • Genuine Leather – It’s animal skin. Plain and simple. Leather is always comfortable and classy, but it can be expensive as well.
  • Leather Alternatives – Materials include vinyl (PVC), polyurethane (most common today) and nylon microfiber. When textile manufacturers were looking for cheaper, easier-to-clean alternatives to leather, they began manufacturing vinyl as a type of faux leather. Recent years have seen the rise of polyurethane (PU) leather and nylon microfiber as suitable alternatives to vinyl, that are better for the environment.
  • Metallic – Although most metallic textiles are woven with metallic fibers, this category of fabrics can be synthetic as well. Metallic coatings can range from translucent to iridescent to highly reflective.

Although this list is not comprehensive, by first eliminating some of the major categories of fabrics and textiles, you can focus more on the options that work best for your environment. And, as always, when in doubt – be sure to ask your interior designer.

Hat tip to Kristi Murray from Designtex for her help with this article.

What did we miss? What are your favorite furniture fabrics? Leave us a comment below.


Top 10 Things to Consider When Working With a Contract Furniture Dealer

If you’re responsible for the purchasing of new office furniture below is a list of the top ten questions you need to ask yourself about as you are choosing a contract furniture dealer.

1. Do they have industry experience?
Furniture manufacturing is a fragmented industry. It takes a lot of time and resources to keep up with the latest product trends and learn the nuances of individual manufacturers. But it is this very experience that allows a dealer to help you with options such as finish selection and planning for end-of-life.

2. Do they know your designer? Are they willing to?
It’s not only relationships with manufacturers that help orders and installations go smoothly. Contract furniture dealerships should have relationships within the Architecture and Design (A&D) community as well – especially yours. This seamless communication structure helps get your furniture in place, faster.

3. Do they have a solid grasp of the vast amount of products available?
There are thousands of furniture manufacturers, each with dozens of product lines. Wood grains and marble veins, glass counter tops and marker boards. The choices can sometimes be overwhelming to say the least. You can rely on a dealership to help you navigate the sea of options to ensure you get the perfect furniture at the right price.

4. Are they asking probing questions about scheduling and delivery dates?
Choosing the right furniture is only the first part of the process. Delivery is the part most people do not even think about until it’s too late. Factoring in delivery budgets and time constraints is one of the major headaches an experienced dealership can help alleviate to keep your project from falling behind.

5. Are they on top of things during the installation stage?
Once the furniture arrives, it’s time for the next phase – installation. This is the stage where the “unknowns” tend to surface. For example, the building may not accommodate the needs of important things like electrical floor outlets and hallway building codes the way you’re A&D firm has planned. Adjustments are often necessary and this is an area where the dealer’s experience matters and resourcefulness comes into play.

6. Do they have design support?
Some contract dealerships have started integrating space design into their list of services. This allows your A&D firm to work closely with the dealership to determine which specific pieces of furniture goes where in relationship to a layout or floor plan. Being able to “speak the same language” helps both the customer and the A&D firm manage resources more efficiently.

7. Is someone managing your project from start to finish?
All of the stages listed thus far are potential roadblocks for your project. One of the greatest advantages of working with a dealer as opposed to taking on the headache yourself is that someone else is taking the lead throughout the entire process. Be sure you are comfortable with the experience and knowledge of your project manager in charge of the furniture component. This could be the difference in a smoothly run project or a potential nightmare.

8. Are you getting the best price?
Another advantage of working with a dealer is quantity discount. This is the point of negotiation where your dealer’s relationships and yearly order volume come into play – where a contract furniture dealership has a distinct advantage. Make sure they have the leverage that can be beneficial to you.

9. Are you looking beyond the sale?
Your company will be living with this furniture for a long time. Something may break or you might want a few more chairs to match your original order, two years later. Make sure that your furniture dealer will not only be there down the road but offers customer service and satisfaction programs after the sale.

10. Do you have peace of mind?
This is actually the single most important question you need to ask yourself when working with a contract furniture dealer.  If you are wringing your hands at night with all of the details listed previously, you need to think about making a change.

What do you look for in a contract furniture dealer?

Top 10 Tips: How To Avoid Pitfalls When Buying Office Furniture

Whether you’re opening a new office, expanding an auditorium or adding a new wing to your facility, the following checklist can help you avoid common pitfalls when purchasing new contract office furniture.

Keep in mind: you can’t use what you can’t fit. So plan ahead. Hire an independent space planner, or make sure your furniture dealer has this capability to ensure the furniture you buy can accommodate people in the space it’s afforded. Getting your space planner involved as early as possible in the process will save time and money.

Get your budget in line ahead of time and try to get approval for at least 20% above the expected cost. We always recommend you do everything possible to minimize mistakes, but having funds in reserve will actually save you money in the long run should you need them.

Scheduling details is critical to the overall success of your furniture purchase, delivery and installation. Something as simple as someone not thinking about or forgetting to call the fire marshal before modular walls can be moved can be devastating to your deadlines. Make sure you have a knowledgeable furniture partner to help you forecast problems and minimize delays.

What do you plan to do with the furniture you are replacing? There are plenty of charitable organizations that could benefit from your old furniture and most offer tax deductions. But, if you want to hang onto your surplus or old furniture, you need a plan for local or remote storage options. Some dealerships maintain warehouses to manage office migrations, providing an affordable way to keep inventory off-site.

Technology changes so rapidly, that it’s difficult to keep up with the way people work. Although you can’t let technology alone dictate how you do business, you can’t ignore how these technologies might play into your new office design. So, stay on top of trends and affordable options to integrate technology into workstations, minimize clutter and maximize your furniture’s adaptability.

When things go wrong during a furniture order or install, it’s often because something changes at the last minute. Knowing that uncertainties exist, discuss future expansion options with your team members and trusted advisors. Together, try to imagine all the things that could go wrong and put people or timelines in place to help you guard against them. For example, decide how using a room for unintended purposes or future technologies, could impact the use of a particular space.

Codes are in place for a reason whether imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or other building codes that concern accessibility or life safety. Ignoring them can lead to an entire room requiring redesign, but consideration should especially be given to these codes before moving cubicle walls, or other modular furniture that can impede traffic flow down corridors or hallways. It happens too many times: an installer or contractor moves furniture around without having an inspector sign off. And it never ends well.

A properly executed punch list will help make sure you get what you paid for and that you won’t waste any time making up for damaged goods. Check items upon delivery as well as once it is installed and assembled. Discovering missing, wrong or even damaged items as soon as possible can have a significant impact on the timeline of your project.

Sadly, yet inevitably, your furniture will wear out over time. Some contract jobs with local or state government even require a limited lifetime of use. Regardless of your use, choosing a dealer you can trust to repair or replace your furniture 5-10 years later, is just as important as making the right choice of furniture the first time around.

“Haste makes waste” and that saying could not be more true than here. Purchasing furniture for your business or institution is an important and sizable responsibility. A rushed decision could mean having to send back 300 chairs or the re-cutting of an expensive conference table, both of which are not only costly but can throw an installation timeline completely off track. So, take your time when making decisions.

Have we left anything out? Please let us know in the comments below.

Benching Systems – The Advantages of Open Office Plans


Today’s modern workforce has different expectations for their office environments. From benching to bleachers, open office planning has become a popular way for employers to maximize space and take advantage of mobility trends that are defining a new generation of employees.

The walls are coming down (both literally and figuratively) as people have less need for separation, and employers have more need to efficiently manage office space.

New benching systems augment these popular “open office” concepts by allowing people to sit together on the same row, and often, across from each other. This requires a new way of thinking about productivity and how your office works together.

We now live in a collaborative world.
With changes in technology and social media specifically, we want to do things faster and share more.  An open space environment allows for working side-by-side with a colleague, thereby encouraging greater lines of communication. Studies have even shown that privacy and fixed-desk seating is less important than the ability to quickly accomplish tasks.

Further, giving employees the freedom to work from any terminal with a connection to your network, makes the office more flexible for ad-hoc project teams and needs-based relocation.

According to a three-year research project conducted by UCLA, companies who modified their business processes to encourage collaboration and moved from private spaces to collaborative environments realized performance increases (speed and accuracy of work) averaging 440%.

Research also suggests that younger workers are more interested in learning from their peers and more experienced workers than are older employees. Open space environments allow for this valued interaction. [source: Open Plan and Enclosed Private Offices (Knoll)]

While open office plans are not a one-size-fits-all solution that works well in every environment, there are valid reasons to consider it:

Open Space Accommodates for Change.
As a new generation enters the workforce, their work styles vary greatly and their technology requirements change frequently. Meaning the move to an open office plan might make sense to manage these changes, while greatly reducing the cost of change to the business.

Open Space Encourages Communication and a Sense of Community.
It might make sense to ‘tear down the walls’ where people need to interact most frequently. This allows for higher productivity and a way for everyone to feel like they are on a team working towards the same goals.

Open Space Increases Mobility and Transparency.
There is no longer a need for employees to feel tied to their desks or hidden away in a corner. As we move away from desktop computers and toward laptops, an open office plan can provide greater flexibility to work wherever it makes sense for the current project.

Open Space Support Training and Mentoring.
Along with the need for transparency comes the need to support education in the workplace. Along with enhanced communication, comes the opportunity to turn your office into an environment where employees can learn from each other more effectively.

What are your thoughts on the open office concept?

Electronics Charging Unplugged. How Does This Effect Office Furniture?


The answer is – a great deal.

Can you imagine being able to simply lay your laptop or phone on a desk and it automatically begins to recharge your battery if needed? Well, the technology for wireless charging embedded into furniture is here and being manufactured, now.

So, why do we need it?
As noted in a recent whitepaper from KI, titled Charging Ahead: Intelligent Wireless Power for Real World Environments, the explosive growth of the portable electronics industry has helped to reinvent the way consumers and businesses work, play and communicate.

• According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average U.S. household owns 25 consumer electronics products
• It is estimated that by 2013, the average U.S. household will have 2.5x as many digital media devices in use as in in 2008.
• These portable devices are being transported into the workplace, community spaces and campus buildings and the number of these electronics continues to increase daily.

Now, imagine an office environment having to support all of these devices when it comes to recharging the batteries. The cord clutter alone becomes a bit overwhelming doesn’t it? Not to mention the number of wall sockets that will be required to accommodate the increasing number of portable electronics. Hence, the push for wireless charging.

Wireless power
Some furniture manufacturers such as KI are already looking to the future by partnering with Fulton Innovation and embedding wireless charging into their furniture with eCoupled technology. The results include flat surfaces such as desks and counter tops that will have the capability of charging batteries simply by laying your device on the surface. This intelligent technology will not only know if your device needs charging, it will immediately begin the charging process.

IMS Research projects that over 900 million devices will be in the market by 2019 using wireless charging and over 50% of the market will use embedded solutions.

How do you feel about wireless charging? Will you consider purchasing furniture with this capability?

For more information on how the technology actually works when embedded in furniture check out this video be sure to read the KI pdf listed here.


Color in the Office Can Evoke Several Emotions. Make Sure It’s The Right Ones.


Beautiful project by JPC Architects.


We know that colors conjure different feelings and symbolism. It is wise to consider this as you work with your office space. Below is a list of just a few colors and their symbolism according to

Make sure to not only communicate the look you are seeking with your designer, but the feel as well.

RED – Excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, all things intense and passionate.

PINK – Pink symbolizes love and romance, caring, tenderness, acceptance and calm.

BEIGE – Beige and ivory symbolize unification. Ivory symbolizes quiet and pleasantness. Beige symbolizes calm and simplicity.

YELLOW – Joy, happiness, betrayal, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard and friendship.

BLUE – Peace, tranquility, cold, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, technology, depression, appetite suppressant.

TURQUOISE – Turquoise symbolizes calm. Teal symbolizes sophistication. Aquamarine symbolizes water. Lighter turquoise has a feminine appeal.

PURPLE – Royalty, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning.

LAVENDAR – Lavender symbolizes femininity, grace and elegance.

ORANGE – Energy, balance, enthusiasm, warmth, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention.

GREEN – Nature, environment, healthy, good luck, renewal, youth, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune, vigor.

BROWN – Earth, stability, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort.

GREY – Security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring. Silver symbolizes calm.

WHITE – Reverence, purity, birth, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), cold, clinical.

BLACK – Power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, unhappiness, depth, style, evil, sadness, remorse, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures).

For more information on color impact and symbolism, click here.