A Chair That Helps You Concentrate

The Filo Chair, named for the paper-thin Greek pastry, automatically adjusts to the micro-movements of the person seated.

Ever been stuck in a long meeting in a weird office chair? It only takes one bad experience with an uncomfortable, noisy (but so stylish!) seat to understand why ergonomic design is so important in the workplace.

Austrian design office EOOS was commissioned to rethink conference room furniture a few years ago. Aware of how distracting poorly designed chairs and tables can be during a tense meeting, the designers set out to create an unassuming furniture line that would fade into the background of a discussion, rather than distract from it. The 18-year-old firm holds patents on everything from the tab on Red Bull cans to the curve of Alessi wine glasses, and wanted to apply similarly detail-oriented design thinking to the office environment.

Manufactured by Bene since 2009, EOOS’ Filo Chair and Table are springing up with increasing frequency. Here, they’re seen in architectTom Lechner’s headquarters for the Austrian construction companyPeneder, the centerpiece of which is a “communication hub” of stacked conference rooms. Inside the fishbowl offices, Filo doesn’t look particularly remarkable, and that’s kind of the idea. EOOS explain that their designs reduce the chair and table to their most basic structural parts.

“Meetings are about rituals. Confidence, authority and calmness promote discussion,” says EOOS co-founder Martin Bergmann. Looking for inspiration, the designers happened across Kyūdō, the ancient Japanese form of archery that’s half sport, half mediation. By chance, the tensioned bows used by Kyūdō archers provided the perfect structural model for a silently adjusting ergonomic chair.

“The armrest of the Filo Chair can be understood as a drawn bow: it stretches at the point where it is thinnest, thereby allowing relaxing micro-movements,” EOOS explains. By silently adjusting to your movements, the chair is supposed to leave you free to focus. There are no rolling wheels or springs, either. Instead, the tensioned arms and mesh backrest adjust to your body as it moves–an end to the clicking of adjustment buttons and the whoosh of hydraulic springs.

For the accompanying Filo conference table, Bergmann explains that the studio took a similarly reductive approach. “It’s a surface that connects people,” he writes. “This is why we wanted to leave the table top alone.” A wide slab of wood veneer, held up by three legs with antler-like branching supports, offers a simple, wide platform for discussion. Below the tabletop, the designers have created a cable holder called a “tornado” to hide the morass of A/V wires and adapters.

So, does Filo really promote focus? It’s certainly quieter, and more unassuming, than the bells-and-whistles office furniture found in many workplaces.


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