In Review… Wilkhahn’s AT chair

Designers Hilda Impey of Wilson Associates and Shawna Mcfee from AAID spent an afternoon with us at the Wilkhahn showroom in d3, experiencing, exploring and further understanding the workings of AT, their latest task chair.

Joining us were Pierre Le Bourdonnec and Pascal Baumgartner from Wilkhahn, who explained its simplicity, practicality and mechanism. And we were lucky enough to have AT designer Aiko Telgen on Skype, who took us through the chair’s inspirational, developmental journey. Here is what we learned…


The Review Crew

Clockwise from top left: Pierre Le Bourdonnec and Pascal Baumgartner from WilkhahnHilda Impey of Wilson Associates and Shawna Mcfee from AAID

The Wilkhahn brand has been synonymous with a superior level of quality, and sits tidy in its own elite niche in the task chair division, starting with the classic ON chair, and then the sporty IN. These chairs come with a high standard of design and functionality, as well as a price to match. However, their latest entrant, the AT, is a mutli-purpose, agile task chair, and also Wilkhahn’s first foray into the more cost effective range.

Coworking spaces, such as project offices and creative design houses, are possibly the most popular examples of agile workplaces, where the focus is on the work, which may or may not necessarily be deskbound. In the recent past, Love That Design has had the opportunity to review several task chairs that fit this bracket of usability, and we wonder how the Wilkhahn AT stands against its valiant competitors.

First Impression


The chair looks solid – dependable almost – and fairly neat in its design, which for task chair that is aimed at multitasking in multiple workspaces, is a good thing. This would mean that the AT could transition into a variety of office scenarios easily and seamlessly. And from what we understand after speaking to Aiko, this is exactly what was intended of its design.

But don’t be fooled by its simple appearance, as snaking underneath is the key to its sweet sauce – the Trimension® technology that is the focal point of the design.



The AT chair employs Wilkhahn’s patented Trimension® technology, which uses 3D kinematics – a world’s unique solution. Trimension® mimics the pelvis’ natural range of motion, matching the way the joints function, from flexing, extending, leaning sideways or rotating – quite interesting to see, and we had a grand time testing out this mechanism. When moving backwards and forwards, the backrest and seat shell follows synchronously so that the user is always sitting dynamically in the right position. But the unique bit is that the seat and back can also tilt sideways, “Basically mimicking the movement of a human walk,” says Pascal. “In addition the counter pressure adjusts automatically to any posture or movement, allowing the body to always maintain its centre of gravity.”

Pascal then goes on to explain how our bodies are built for being active and being outside. “And with industrialisation, this lifestyle moved rapidly indoors, to being at a desk. Being in a static position for extended periods of time is actually making us lose muscle mass. The Trimension technology, along with 3D kinematics, activates the body with natural movements from the knees to the hips and the entire upper body. Users’ metabolisms are activated, they feel less fatigue at the end of the day and are more productive.”

As we dig deeper into the backstory, we learn that the brand has been researching into this for decades, all in an effort to make people less deskbound. The 3D dynamics stimulate the body while providing comfort, thereby boosting our powers of concentration and simultaneously making work a relaxing experience.

Hilda: “I love the inspiration behind it and the journey through the mind of the designer. The interesting part is that it can be made pretty, particularly with the Kvadrat range of fabrics and other options for materials. I feel that it is a design that sits in the middle, where it’s not ‘wow’, neither is it classical enough to be timeless. However, what it does have going for it is the peace of mind of a well-researched product by a supplier and brand, where you know there is quality assurance every step of the way.”

Shawna: “When you first see it, it’s just another task chair. But when the thought process behind its design is explained to you, your appreciation for it is much higher. It’s not a supermodel in terms of attention grabbing, but not everyone needs a supermodel, and I don’t believe that that was the design intent. The design very much caters to the functionality of the chair, and is inspired by clean lines and the art of movement, both of which are present in its aesthetics.



The AT features automatic weight adjustment motion, which reacts to a weight range of 45 to 120 kg. Optionally, six levels of presets can refine and sensitize the range of motion based on preference. While the pros of such intuitive features are clearly high, it made Hilda question the possible negative side effects of sitting in a chair that does not have them, considering that the market is flush with task chairs that do not offer this technology.

“There are no negative side effects,” says Aiko, “and automatic weight adjustment helps to take away the option of having to adjust, and inadvertently adjusting incorrectly, or possibly dealing with mechanism that is working incorrectly. These scenarios could affect the user in a negative way.”

An intuitive knob, which is easily accessible without the need to bend or stand up, can precision adjust the seat depth by six centimetres, a feature we have not seen in other chairs, and this certainly impressed. We tried out this unique depth adjustment and found that it really did release pressure on the legs and inner thighs, creating a considerably higher level of comfort. Our designers too, were in awe of it.

Design and Inspiration


“We wanted the design of this chair to be able to fit in easily with the other design components in an interior and can be perfectly mixed with other products of our portfolio,” says Aiko. He describes this new entrant in their portfolio as an ‘allrounder’ – a chair that was not only functional and easy to use, but added greatly to the design of a space and meeting the requirements of many user types. “For inspiration, we looked into how things were created, such as the in the architecture of a building, and how to break them down,” he says. “Next, we looked at the idea of layering, a concept generally applied in automotive design. Each layer has a different purpose, be it functional or aesthetic. Lastly, the integrated design of each component creates a sculptural, almost seamless form. In this way, the chair symbolises the fluid, automatic and intuitive movements the user makes.” Apparently, all that is needed to pull apart and put together the chair is one little screwdriver!

Hilda: “I like what I learned today about the sitting functions and movements that this chair complements. And how it affects our metabolism and levels of concentration. I also like that this chair gives the option of comfort to mid-level employees with all its add ons, something that used to be reserved for the senior execs.”

Shawna: “It’s a user friendly chair and not intimidating, as compared to some of the others out there. I like that it does not confuse you with numerous knobs and buttons. It’s like a pair of shoes, where after you’ve sat in it for a while, it feels quite comfortable.  The 3D seating feature is really impressive. The chair’s ability to adapt to its user and their posture is something you won’t find in most ergonomic chairs on the market. Also, the automatic weight adjustment feature can go unnoticed by most, but plays a large role in how well the chair adapts to the user. The adjustable seat depth is by far my favorite feature. It really allows you to customise the chair to your body and the way you prefer to sit.”

Hilda: I would agree. This is a truly unique element that I have not experienced elsewhere.”

Shawna: Also, as designers we always want more options so we feel like we are giving our client a unique product. Understanding the limitations of manufacturing has a huge impact on customisation. If I were to wish for more, it would be to possibly introduce more colour options for the polyamide components.

Range, Colour and Material Options


AT’s key components, the shell for the seat, backrest bearer and frame, are available in black or white. There are three backrest height options – medium, advanced, and with head and neck rest – the look of which can be played with via a range of upholstery colours and materials, making the appearance significantly customisable. It also increases the family range of the AT, from basic task chair to one that exudes a more luxurious, senior exec appeal. Plus, the varying heights and optimisations allow for a wide range of body types and physical requirements.

“This offering enables clients to furnish their spaces from the reception to the top executive offices with one design line and to create a strong corporate identity,” says Pascal.

We also checked out Wilkhahn’s fabric and leather collection, which consists of some lovely warm and on-trend shades, so the design options are virtually endless (an aspect that our LTD team and both designers invited for the review felt was a definite plus). The designers were keen on the ability to customise with possibly even dual tones, allowing them the chance to offer company colour options to clients.

Parting Thoughts…


This chair range is Wilkhahn’s economy offering and allows an attractive and competitive price positioning in volume projects. As mentioned previously, the design of the chair is minimal. While it would not take long for a potential client to be bowled over by AT’s many ‘ATtributes’, this is one of those products that needs to be demo-ed to be appreciated, plus the Wilkhahn name and the values it represents will vouch for it.

Hilda: The chair is very well thought out, and the design process is inspiring. It could possibly be a bit more seamless, when the various components are pieced together. Overall though. it does sit in a comfortable mid standard range.

Shawna: And the world survives on that mid standard, so therein lies its appeal. The AT is not the most dynamic looking, but is very well considered in terms of functionality, and thankfully lacks any unnecessary elements. And it’s nice to have the fabric option at the back!

The Designers of AT talk about their inspiration…

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