Barberosgerby’s ‘Pacific’ office chair is shaping up to be the perfect seat for every bottom line.
AS ONE OF THE UK’S best-known design studios, Barberosgerby (comprising Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby) have designed everything from a coathanger for Levi’s to ceramic tiles for Stella Mccartney and the torch for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Visiting Sydney last year to show their new ‘Pacific’ office chair for Vitra, Barber said designing it was not an easy task. “We wanted to create something elegant and stripped down. We’ve never done a furniture design as complex as this,” he says of the chair that has about 140 parts.
Vitra was after an original approach when they commissioned Barberosgerby about four years ago. “There are thousands of office chairs on the market and all of them have their own unique selling point. This special ‘thing’ is usually focused on a function so we decided to base ours on a unique aesthetic that creates visual calm in the workplace,” says Barber. The ‘Pacific’ chair has a longer back than usual which hides the controls and has a special sensor buried deep within the seat that automatically adjusts for height and weight variations. “In today’s office where co-working is the norm, most chairs are shared so flexibility for users is a must,” he says.
“Vitra was very keen to get us onto this project because of the unique qualities we brought to bear in our ‘Tip Ton’ chair design from 2011. It really was an entirely new concept in a deeply saturated market and they hoped we could do the same with an office chair,” says the designer.
The verdict is still out on whether the ‘Pacific’ chair is destined for classic status but early signs have been positive with the first large order going to the new Apple headquarters in Cupertino – 12,000 of them to be precise. The decision by the building’s architects, Foster + Partners, to specify the chair was very much driven by how its simplicity leads to a visually orderly work space while avoiding a corporate feeling.
“When we did our research into existing task chairs the only ones we liked were from the 50s through to the 70s such as the ‘Kevi’ chair, the Eames Aluminium Group and the ‘Supporto’ chair by Frederick Scott. We kept asking, ‘why is that?’ The answer is probably down to the fact that they were all beautifully simple,” says Barber.
While the ‘Pacific’ chair offers all the gadgets found in a high-spec office chair, the form gives away subtle hints of Barberosgerby DNA such as the beautiful cast aluminium arms and base. Materials were chosen for longevity while upholstery choices were selected for their muted, calm palette.
“After investing four years in a project like this you want to be really happy with the outcome and feel you have created something useful, comfortable and original,” says Barber.
The Vitra ‘Pacific’ chair is available at Space and Living Edge. barberosgerby.com; spacefurniture.com.au; livingedge.com.au