Highlights: Steelcase Karman Chair Launch

On 22nd February, Steelcase’s Dubai Showroom welcomed designers from the region’s most prominent studios for an evening of games, dance and music. Gathered to celebrate the launch of the much anticipated Karman chair, the guests took back more than memories…

Product launches don’t have to be reduced to a recital of brochures. For instance, Steelcase’s Karman launch event in Dubai was deliberately curated to steer away from a formal, controlled setting to a more casual yet purposeful one. The evening began with an immersive treasure hunt and concluded with a round of “I-Spy the Steelcase Balloon.”

For the treasure hunt, the rules were simple, and outperformers stood the chance to win Steelcase’s Eclipse light. With enough incentive in tow, attending designers scanned the QR code they received at the entrance to decrypt riddles about ten products in the Steelcase Dubai showroom. These products were placed on the ground and mezzanine floors and could be either from Steelcase or one of their partner brands. The task was to closely examine all the products with a placard to unravel the answers. As participants foraged through, the event turned lively and agile.

Soon after, Sara Brondsema, Category Manager at Steelcase Germany, delved into an interactive presentation to address the star of the evening: the Karman chair. Steelcase’s latest usurps inspiration from the The Kármán Line, where the atmosphere meets space, weightlessness becomes possible and going beyond becomes reality.  To put it succinctly, the chair aims to embody the surrealism of outer space. From the weightlessness to infinite possibilities, Steelcase’s Karman embraces the concept of ‘Going Beyond.’ 

Steelcase also offered an all-expenses paid zero-gravity experience to the keenest of listeners to commemorate the muse. To qualify, one had to obtain the highest score at the end-of-presentation Kahoot.

The Karman Task Chair by Steelcase

Be it their education portfolio or workspace repertoire, Steelcase products are steeped in years of research and backed by solid data. From ergonomics to sustainability initiatives, the brand is known to launch products only after thorough probing and prototyping. Their latest Karman task chair is another addition that has been released into the market after careful consideration and design processes. It was conceptualised 15 years ago and represents a culmination of material science advancements and manufacturing technologies.

“Steelcase is a company dedicated to advancing the boundaries between comfort and efficiency in workspaces”, Sara began her address. “Steelcase’s commitment to innovation in product development relies heavily on closely collaborating with clients, designers, architects, and influencers to understand evolving workplace trends and transform insights into innovative solutions.”

Based primarily in Munich, Sara leads Steelcase’s new product development efforts, focusing on enhancing employee well-being, engagement, and productivity by creating ergonomic seating solutions. 

She continued, “The Karman chair is designed to provide comfort and support. It incorporates a flexible frame to accommodate movement, a weight-activated reclining mechanism for personalised comfort, and a hybrid seat combining mesh and foam for enhanced ergonomics.” The design process to develop Karman was meticulous, which is reflected in their collaboration with textile manufacturers to create a unique fabric, Intermix. Intermix is Steelcase Karman’s proprietary performance textile that creates just the right support in the seat and back, for all shapes and sizes.

The Karman chair is designed to provide comfort and support. It incorporates a flexible frame to accommodate movement, a weight-activated reclining mechanism for personalised comfort, and a hybrid seat combining mesh and foam for enhanced ergonomics.

Sara Brondsema, Category Manager, Steelcase Germany

In addition, Steelcase also puts in efforts to minimise material usage and optimise product weight without compromising quality or performance. “Karman offers various customization options”, Sara explains. “There are plenty of options in frame colours, fabric types, and additional features like height-adjustable lumbar support. Task chairs need not be boring and unyielding, and Karman is an apt example.”

Throughout her presentation, Sara stressed the need to reimagine the workplace and design products that align with modern workers’ evolving needs and expectations. “Consider the impact of innovative seating solutions like Karman on workplace dynamics. It encourages designers and specifiers to challenge conventional design principles and create more inclusive and productive work environments”, she averred.

Once she had concluded her presentation, the buzz that had settled quickly resuscitated in anticipation of the quiz. 

The Winners: KEO’s Double Victory

Carl Vincent Palapal, BIM Interior Designer at KEO (who has probably honed his listening skills from sitting in client meetings for over 7 years) aced the quiz and won the prize.

But the spirit of competition did not end there. On the day, Steelcase was decorated with black helium balloons, all stopped in their trajectory by the showroom’s ceiling. For this next activity, attendees had to pull each balloon down to check which one had the Steelcase sticker.

Following some sneaky and some enthusiastic pull-downs, Feliz La Madrid from KEO was able to locate the balloon and was awarded with Steelcase Goodies.

Ultimately, it came down to the treasure hunt. There were 10 contestants who had solved all the riddles correctly. These finalists were entered into a raffle contest because there could be only one claim over Steelcase’s Eclipse. Peter Mishreky, Design Department Manager at Al Tayer Stocks, emerged as the winner. Peter, his signature cadence and the Eclipse Light’s sleek form made for a picturesque trio.

Unknowingly, all the attendees had also entered themselves into a lucky draw to win the Karman chair. At the launch, it was announced that Mohamed Taher, Projects Manage from ADIB would be able to take the chair with him.

Just like Steelcase Karman looks to revolutionise workplace ergonomics and task chair design, its launch in Dubai reimagined ways of informing key audiences about products. Designing is a business, but at its core, it is a fun-filled activity with a healthy dose of collaboration and competition among peers. To users, both a space and a product must evoke joy and promote productivity. In other words, they must go “Beyond comfort.”


Related Articles