Steelcase recently unveiled SILQ, a chair that features a new high-performance polymer material that emulates the qualities of carbon fiber at a mass market price. This material, combined with the sensuous curves of the design, allows SILQ to respond to natural movements of the human body without the mechanisms typically required in high-performance seating.
"The idea behind SILQ comes from our deep belief about design. The visual language, performance language and material composition should come together to create something that's truly unique," explained James Ludwig, vice president, global design and engineering. "We took inspiration from aerospace, the motion of a high-performance prosthetic leg and sculpture, among other things, to understand how the combination of advanced materials and shape could create a simple system that is incredibly thin, extremely strong and highly responsive."
Ludwig and his team first created a premium version of SILQ in carbon fiber. But they knew they needed to innovate further to reach every audience. They continued prototyping and invented a new material and manufacturing process resulting in a high-performance polymer that behaves like carbon fiber. "The way SILQ is shaped, what it is made of and the way it performs are inseparable," explained Ludwig. "We pushed the boundaries of materials science and the material became the mechanism."
The way SILQ responds to a person's posture and stature is unique to each user because of the way the materiality, design and motion of the human body come together. Height is the only adjustment necessary for a tailored and unique experience. "The simplicity of this chair means anyone who sits in SILQ is going to be supported and delighted no matter where or how they are working," said Ludwig.
SILQ offers an expansive variety of material combinations, including digital printing options, to allow interior designers to create virtually limitless bespoke versions for their clients.