By Rick Tobar, Global Furnishings Segment Leader at DuPont Performance Polymers
Flexible Plastic For A Flexible Approach To Work
Designed by Formway Design of New Zealand, the Generation by Knoll® work chair offers a new level of comfort and unrestrained movement, supporting the range of postures and work styles typical of today's dynamic workplace. The Generation chair takes the idea of elastic design—where a product rearranges itself in response to its user—to a new level.
Using the inherent flexible properties of DuPont high performance thermoplastics, Generation literally flexes as you change position, responding to your movements.
DuPont involvement in the Generation by Knoll® chair project from an early stage was fundamental to its award winning design. DuPont provided key input to Formway Design and Knoll that allowed them to envision the use of its materials in a way that had not been seen before in the furniture industry. The chair design leverages flexible plastic from DuPont Performance Polymers for significant functional and structural components of the chair.
Material flexibility and durability
Key to the chair's flexing and supportive features is the use of the DuPont high performance thermoplastics DuPont™ Hytrel® TPC-ET and DuPont™ Crastin® PBT for key components of its design, the Flex Back and the Dynamic Suspension control.
The frameless Flex Back design flexes as you move, with the Flex Back Net cradling your back and the unique figure 8 structure enabling multidimensional movement. "The Flex Back Net is fused to the figure 8 structure, yet to identify one component as the skin and the other as the skeleton would be misleading, as they are inextricably intertwined," explains Benjamin Pardo, Knoll design director.
The chairs streamlined and innovative Dynamic Suspension control, which also uses Hytrel® and Crastin®, is a simple, non-mechanical control that provides a weight-compensated, smooth ride. Without the complexity of metal links or springs, the control uses one-third the number of parts of a traditional chair mechanism. The inherent properties of the materials—flexibility and durability—enable a range of energizing, multidirectional movements.
"The materials give the Flex Back Net and the Dynamic Suspension control their elasticity and durability – so they essentially provide form and function, in one," describes Pardo. With the materials providing both movement and structure, fewer parts and less energy are required to make the chair. As a result, at 37 lbs, Generation is lighter than most high performance task chairs.
It is the first chair to be rated SMaRT© Sustainable Platinum, an achievement that reflects the Knoll commitment to integrating performance, quality and sustainability into its designs. This commitment is also reflected by ongoing development work between Knoll and DuPont on the use of renewably sourced materials in the chair. The Flex Back Net has transitioned to Hytrel® RS that contains at least 50% renewably sourced ingredients by weight. Hytrel® RS grades create a smaller environmental footprint than the entirely petrochemically- based materials they replace without compromising performance.
Overall, the Generation by Knoll® chair project constitutes a prime example of what we at DuPont call inclusive innovation, and it is a highly successful design story that is yet to be concluded.
Generation by Knoll® is a registered trademark of Knoll, Inc.