When James Ludwig and his team of engineers at Steelcase conceptualised SILQ, they knew they wanted to design a task chair that performs intuitively; they wanted it to respond to the natural movement of the human body.
Steelcase understands that each person is different and has tried to adapt this insight into the design of this particular task chair.
James joined the Love That Design team, Abeer Sajjad (Brand Communications Manager of Steelcase), Pallavi Dean (Design Director and Architect at Pallavi Dean Interiors) and Jacqueline Craft (Senior Interior Designer at LW Design) for a teleconference, all the way from Michigan, to talk us through his design approach and vision for SILQ.
During the course of our afternoon spent with the Steelcase team, Pallavi Dean, Design Director and Architect at Pallavi Dean Interiors, and Jacqueline Craft, Interior Designer at LW Design, spent some time getting to grips with Steelcase‘s SILQ chair. Take a look at what they had to say.
First impressions count. Was there something exciting, inspiring, practical, unique or even weird about SILQ that caught your eye?
Pallavi: A great looking task chair – very elegant! SILQ has a Scandinavian look and feel in terms of its shape and general aesthetic… there’s something fluid about its design that makes it stand out.
Jacqueline: I really like the sleek design of SILQ. At first glance, its smooth and continuous design really grabs your attention. The backrest makes a statement and definitely sets it apart from more traditional task chairs. Once you get the chance to examine the chair in person, it becomes evident that SILQ is not designed to be a “one design, fits all” chair.
According to James, the idea behind SILQ was clear; they wanted to create a chair that’s simple, more organism than machine. One that operates intuitively and invites the human body to participate in the experience.
By experimenting and trying to push the boundaries of material science through explorations with carbon fiber, they managed to achieve their vision. While chatting with James, Pallavi, Jacqueline and Abeer, it quickly became evident that it was a material process breakthrough that embodied the qualities of carbon fiber, that allowed the product design team to deliver on their aspiration in terms of mass production.
Visually speaking, how appealing is SILQ?
Pallavi: I find the idea behind the stitched fabric quite interesting and it makes it an attractive option for more unconventional spaces. There’s a lot of room for creativity when it comes to the available options.
Jacqueline: In terms of its aesthetics, SILQ is exceptionally streamlined and simple in its approach, especially because of the design of the chair’s continuous spine. This has helped to achieve a very sophisticated visual appeal, which means that the chair would fit into most spaces without difficulty.
We absolutely love James’s experimental and playful approach to designing SILQ. The result is a sleek and refined task chair that offers users both a balance in terms of its technical features and its sophisticated look and feel.
We agree with James in that SILQ offers a canvas for personal expression with its unprecedented range of material combinations that allow you to move from one end of the design spectrum to the other. Although the prototype made available to Steelcase Dubai was quite conservative in terms of its finishes, SILQ as product is bound to bring aesthetic cohesion, brand expression and beauty to any environment.
And, how comfortable is it? Talk us through your experience…
Pallavi: Having suffered from tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome for quite some time, I’m all about comfort! It’s important to keep in mind how my body will respond to sitting in a specific position for a certain period of time. SILQ’s design will definitely ensure that I won’t slouch at my desk as most of us do. However, I wouldn’t look forward to sitting upright all day either. So to answer the question, I would position SILQ in spaces where I wouldn’t have to spend long hours.
Jacqueline: It’s definitely a comfortable chair, but, I’m not sure how long I could sit in this chair with its highly adaptable and dynamic shape and structure. For me personally, I need to be able to relax to some extent.
Both thin and strong, SILQ has clearly been designed to be adaptable and intuitive, like technology. The fundamental genesis of the chair, according to its designers, was to create a chair that would add value to people’s lives by adding features or non-features that would remove friction from people’s lives. We couldn’t agree more. No time will be wasted on trying to suss out how the chair works or how to get it back to your original settings once you’ve figured it out.
So, in terms of SILQ’s design and functionality, what works and what doesn’t?
Pallavi: I’m in love with Steelcase’s notion of a single and uninterrupted shape. I think the result speaks for itself in terms of SILQ’s stylish and smooth design simplicity. I would include it in hospitality projects, hotels, as well as breakout spaces or collaborative areas where people don’t need to sit for long periods of time. Here, I’m thinking of a hot-desking environment where a sales team would be positioned. It would encourage them to limit their workstation activities and move around more. I also find the chair light, making it easier to move across or closer to the table while in a meeting or brainstorming session. But most of all, I love that it’s relatively idiot-proof. I want to spend my time designing and working creatively, and definitely not figuring out how my chair works!
Jacqueline: To me, the overall aesthetics and the wide variety of finishes offered make it an ideal option for a variety of projects. Although SILQ has a clean and simple design that could make a statement in any space, the fact that I can be creative with the finishes is fabulous. On the other hand, more flexibility would be welcome as it would enable me to move around in my chair as well as from one spot to another as I tend to do on a daily basis.
We can see this chair being used in a home office setting, hotel rooms or business areas, and definitely in start-up environments and media offices where creativity comes first. Having a multitude of finishes available to create an infinite palette of skins to create a signature look and feel is such a bonus for any organization. Not to mention interior designers! Vast material combinations and digital printing options give designers nearly limitless opportunities.
SILQ’s ability to adapt to the needs of most spaces – from a progressive or avant-garde environment to a more traditional and conservative space – needs to be acknowledged. A rare feat in task chair design.