Scandinavian Seating Solutions

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If you thought that all chairs were created equal, think again. It’s not until you sit on a HAG chair that you “enjoy renewed motivation and energy in getting to grips with work.” This is possibly why having HAG chairs in your office could make worktime seem more like play. HAG was established in 2007 and is Scandinavia’s leading supplier of ergonomic seating solutions and their philosophy is based on the concept that “Movement is a basic characteristic of all life. Movement nourishes the body, activating and strengthening it, inside and out. HAG understands the art of creating movement as you sit.” All HAG chairs are specifically designed to help you sit in balance and to encourage you to use your legs which is good for blood circulation.

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What’s more, HAG is committed to preserving the environment by using recycled car bumpers and plastic waste for the plastic component of the chairs. The company was also the first European manufacturer to be certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute, USA which guarantees that HAG products do not contain hazardous substances or emit pollutants. HAG also contributes towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by making sure that 100% of the factory’s electricity consumption comes from renewable energy sources. To find out more about these unique products we interviewed Mr. Henrik Meltesen, the Regional Sales Manager of Scandinavian Business Seating Asia Pte Ltd from Singapore.

As a chair specialist, you tell people in your presentations that sitting down is “bad”. Explain what you mean by that.
Yes and no…The human body was not designed to remain still either seated or standing, for prolonged periods of time. However, this is how the majority of office workers end up spending many hours each day, stuck behind a desk in outdated chairs that don’t provide them what their bodies need… and yes, that is bad for them.

Many of the new studies currently being published have focused on the resulting lifestyle diseases that have been linked to a static and sedentary lifestyle. In fact, the hype around ‘sitting as the new smoking” or “sitting is killing you’ has become the talk of the town all over the world; however in Scandinavia it is nothing that new.

Truth is that HAG, RH and RBM identified this contradiction long ago and have been making chairs with the body in focus for the last 30 years, a focus that has made us the leading ergonomic chair manufacturer and the largest office chair manufacturer in Europe.

We understand that a chair must accommodate the basic requirements of the body; effortless movement, variation and a natural upright posture. Getting this right makes it easy for the user to look after their spine and avoid the long term dangers associated with static sitting.

The term “ergonomics” is widely associated with the chairs you produce. What does this term mean?
Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.

In brief: The science of productivity
Ergonomics is a commonly used (even over-used) term by many chair manufacturers to describe products that contain a wide range of adjustable features, however these alone are not the key to the chair being of any “ergonomic” benefit to the particular user. For example, I once heard a manufacturers claim that their chair was most ergonomic because it could fit a 7ft tall user, weighing up to 200kg. Unless you are that particular person then such a range of adjustment adds no value to you or the rest of us!

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For us, the chair must compliment the work tasks being performed and be very easy to adjust, so that any worker (new or long terms users) can effortlessly gain the ergonomic benefits that the chair offers. This means focusing on their job and not the chair, and improving productivity at work. Going back to our belief in movement, variation and natural upright posture, these must come automatically when using our chairs; so that workers remain comfortable, refreshed and more productive, even while sitting.

We emphasise what we call a balanced foot controlled movement, which ensures constant micro movements while sitting and inspires variation of posture, since balance is the best starting point for movement! A balanced seat movement mechanism means that the user obtains a natural upright posture while working at tasks in front of them, while in most other chairs users must recline in order to experience lumbar support.

The natural upright posture comes from the balanced seat mechanism with front tilt and not the lumbar support.

The funny looking chair called Capisco is apparently the product. What is so unique about HAG Capisco that has made your company famous?
The word “Capsico” actually means: ‘I understand’ in Italian. This comes back to the ease of use and the fact that anyone knows how to use the chair without being taught how to. The shape of the chair inspires the body to obtain good posture, a variation of sitting positions and effortless movement. The ultimate chair for everyone!

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The original Capisco chair was designed 30 years ago by Peter Opsvik, who is a leading ergonomic seating designer and artist. He designed the chair with inspiration from the good posture of horseback riders and the natural carefree way children move and adjust according to the body’s needs. Still today it is our bestselling chair in SBS and personally I use it at work and at home. The timeless classic design complements almost any home or office space when dressed in the right colour and material.

Your chairs cost 10 times more than the standard chair. Why should customers pay such a high price for your products?
We get that question a lot, and it is a very valid question. I will refer that to our company cornerstones – Ergonomics, Visual Design, Quality and Environment.

We are a leader within ergonomic seating, we create beautiful, timeless, Scandinavian designed products, the Quality is outstanding and aligns with our Environmental policies, which we have pioneered the last 20 years. Our cornerstones ensure a holistic design approach, through which we always challenge the status quo of each, for every new product we design.

Our customers’ are like-minded companies and individuals whose core values support their workplace strategies to improve productivity and look after the health of their staff, in order to attract and retain key employees.

Our goal is not to be the cheapest, but to be the best. It would not have been possible to have reached where we are today, as one of the world’s leading furniture manufacturers if we had compromised this goal.

So back to your question why it cost 10 times more; basically you get 20 fold in return of health, quality and performance!

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HAG and RH chairs are widely used and endorsed by physiotherapists, ergonomists, chiropractors and specialists alike. Tell us about the health benefits of your chair.
Most health specialists understand the importance of good posture and movement. So static sitting and poor posture generally work against their treatment and lower the chances of an optimal recovery for many of their patients. Therefore they often refer their patients to us, as a compliment to their work, which help increase the recovery rate and they have happier patients.

Back to basics – Effortless movement, variation and natural upright posture.

This issue is about sustainability. What can home owners and businesses learn from your company about sustainability?
They can learn that every consumer has a choice on what they purchase and that choice impacts the planet. Their demand patterns effect what manufacturers produce. When customers demand green products, we build green products. More and more companies are insisting on green products and just like you want healthier foods at home, so too are people expecting cleaner, greener products. It’s our duty to the next generation that follows us.

What is your advice for people who can’t afford your chair?
Start by implementing some basic workplace strategies, that everyone should do no matter what chair they are sitting in:

• Get up and move every 30 min – Avoid prolonged sitting (go for a glass of water, stretch, etc)

• Exercise daily (we all know this, but do it!)

• Start saving or get a payment plan. It is an investment in your health and future (with 10 years warranty on our chairs, it can cost less than approximately $0.5/day to sit right, perform better and look after your health. Therefore cheaper than buying an upfront cheaper but poor ergonomic chair).


This article was published in the March 2015 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!

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