Sunday, January 15, 2012

Steelcase Amia has arrived!

So - I did get my Amia last Friday (in my home office below), after a bit of a debacle with Steelcase - a replacement one this time.  The fist one they shipped came broken and malfunctioned right out of their factory.  Everything worked except the most basic control of all - the height adjustment.  The gas lifter mechanism was shot, and lever had no engagement at all.  After a few calls and emails to their customer service, they did take the old one away and replaced it with one that thankfully works like it should this time.

Disappointment with their quality problems did fade away as I got used to my new Amia - simply put, the more I use it, the more I love it, and appreciate the thought that went into both the seat and back support especially.  Having adjusted the tilt resistance control to my liking, it feels like heaven, i.e. like every good ergonomic chair should.

That got me to think how sad it is that makers of this "class" of chairs do not make available to anyone in easily accessible "big box" office stores.  Their price range makes good design and true comfort simply out of reach of general public.  Yes there are plenty of marketing, supply, manufacturing volume and distribution reasons for this, but sadly its the textbook case of what Karim Rashid addresses when he talks about democratic design, i.e. great design available to the masses.  Why should Steelcases' Amia and Leap, or Herman Miller's Embody and Aeron always be "high end" for mostly institutional buyers?  Why should Office Depot or Staples sell a cheap piece of crap that makes you hurt and gets staticky just by rolling on a carpet for a while?

When it comes to products that would improve health and elevate everyone's seating experience to truly ergonomic and comfortable, I wish furniture makers would eliminate the cheap/entry level chair category entirely, and change their business model fundamentally to simply not offer anything less than a chair like Think or Amia at affordable range.  I know this is idealistic and utopian, but I can still dream, can't I??

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