Allsteel Enters New Era in Seating with Development of Acuity™ Chair

May 15, 2008

Allsteel has achieved a coup in office seating comfort with the development of the Acuity chair.

A design that also raises the bar on aesthetics in the category, Acuity represents the marriage of style and fashion sensibility to Allsteel's signature engineering prowess. Its development is the outcome of a first-time collaboration with Design Continuum Italia, the Milan-based product innovation firm headed by founding partner Bruce Fifield, whose credits include Procter & Gamble's Swiffer and Reebok's Pump. The Allsteel assignment was Continuum's first chair design ever.

Beyond Acuity's compelling good looks, the chair delivers on all measures of performance and comfort. It is an adaptive chair that yields a healthy and noticeably different sitting experience, with easy to adjust controls that are highly intuitive and within easy reach when seated. The weight-activated back support mechanism automatically adapts to the individual.

The Allsteel-Continuum collaboration began with qualitative research conducted among consumers across the United States. Participants provided their spontaneous reactions in sit-and-work sessions, and both their initial and final comfort rankings were recorded. The findings of these comfort surveys from the users' perspectives were instrumental in aiding Continuum in its design approach.

"We realized that the first two minutes in a chair are just as critical as long-term comfort," said Fifield. "We found that trust has a high emotional impact in even the first few seconds of the seating experience—it needs to feel right."

Comfort Achieved With AcuFit™... Allsteel's engineers call it a dynamic adaptive fit; the design team has coined it AcuFit. Either way, it translates to mean comfort and is achieved by the combination of three essential components-the weight-activated controls, a hybrid seat cushion, and a conforming mesh back and carrier combination-all working together effortlessly and invisibly. According to Mark Roumfort, Allsteel Vice President, Product Development, "Acuity's weight-activated mechanism automatically adjusts to the user's body weight, keeping it in perfect alignment through the full range of recline motion and forward tasking. This provides a comfortable and lengthy sitting experience without the need for adjustments."

Acuity features a conforming mesh back and carrier combination that adapts by flexing to the user's shape so he/she stays in contact with the chair throughout an entire range of motion. "When you sit in Acuity, you feel the chair gently, yet firmly, embracing you; what it really does is support the shoulders and the lumbar simultaneously to promote healthy sitting. Acuity won't allow you to slump," noted Roumfort.

The contoured seat provides improved support and reduces stress on pressure points, which contributes to long-term comfort. The seat is a molded foam base with memory foam on top so it provides a soft, cushioned feeling when one first sits, as well as more firm support throughout the day.

Intuitive Controls at Your Service...
Unlike other chairs that use multiple levers and knobs or force you to reach under, around and sometimes even behind to make adjustments for personal comfort, Acuity's controls are easily positioned and understood by conveniently bundling them together. On the right side, intuitively at the seat edge, are the ‘fit to body' adjustments (seat height and depth); while the ‘fit to task' adjustments (tilt lock and recline tension) are located at the seat's left edge. Both sets are easily understood and operated, so users get the ultimate value out of their chair with just the touch of a button.

A European Design Aesthetic... Acuity's European pedigree is apparent in the craftsmanship and attention to detail.

"We've always worked with the desire to elevate not just the quality of the overall seating experience, but also the fit, finish and tailoring," explained Fifield. "All the parts and pieces, from the stitching to the richness of the product reflect an artisan sensibility that typifies European design."

The back is available in four carrier/mesh options: Graphite carrier with either dusk or mist mesh; Titanium carrier with mist or lustre mesh. A fitted upholstered back or "jacket" can be specified as well, the slipped over the mesh to create a truly uncommon effect.

Finish options for the chassis and base include polished aluminum, silver and graphite.

Acuity is an attractive candidate for all levels of an organization's hierarchy, from executive office and boardroom to a variety of tasking environments.

Positive Environmental Impact...
Allsteel's commitment to environmental responsibility is a core company value and integrated into all areas of its business—from the construction of its showrooms to manufacturing processes. This ingrained commitment is clearly reflected in Acuity, which has just earned Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Silver certification from McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC).

Notable as well is that Allsteel is using wind energy to power the assembly of Acuity, a move that is helping to offset approximately 16,356 pounds of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas. The environmental benefit, according to Sterling Planet, which is the nation's leading retail renewable energy provider, is equivalent to not driving two passenger cars for one year or recycling 2.5 tons of waste.

Additionally, more than 90 percent of Acuity's materials (by weight) can be recycled and 50 percent of its original materials contain recycled content. Though the chair is warranted to last a lifetime, Allsteel's ‘take-back' policy assures the company will pick up any Acuity chair that is no longer useful.

Acuity has achieved SCS (Scientific Certification Systems) Indoor Advantage™ Gold certification. SCS, a leading independent, third-party auditing and standards development firm for environmental and sustainability claims, certifies environmental achievement in indoor air quality for office furniture systems, components and seating.

A Chair That's Consistent with the Brand...
"Acuity is another breakthrough for the Allsteel brand," said Brandon Sieben, Allsteel Vice President, Marketing. "The Acuity design process is a perfect example of what we stand for—never sitting still, achieving higher design, while providing greater innovation and developing solutions that are relevant to our customers.

"Working with Continuum," he added "we were able to utilize our explorative nature in creating a seating experience from the ground up. In this case, it was employing our spirit of constructive discontent throughout the entire project until it met both our design criteria and the user's complete needs for adaptive fit."

For more information, visit www.DiscoverNewAcuity.com.

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