Architecture & Design, Focus, and Manufacturing

American Seating says pull up a seat at NeoCon

The Nima chair and table lines for education will be the focal point.

June 5, 2015
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American Seating Nima
The Nima chair line, which consists of stacking, mobile and fixed chairs, will be on display at NeoCon. Courtesy American Seating

“You just have to try it,” said Doug Oswald, American Seating director of advanced design, in reference to American Seating’s new Nima chair line.

That’s because the key feature of the chair is a patented mechanism that is tucked out of sight, allowing the back to move with the user.

The Nima line, which consists of stacking, mobile and fixed chairs, is being featured in the American Seating exhibition space this year at NeoCon, the largest commercial interiors show in North America, which takes place at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago June 15-17.

The Nima chairs were designed in collaboration with Italian furniture designer Giancarlo Piretti for the higher education and contract environments. Prototypes of the chair were on display last year at NeoCon, but this is the first year the chairs have been in production.

“The key to Nima’s outstanding ergonomics and design aesthetic is its pivot point, which originates at the user’s hip, not the back,” Oswald said. “The contoured articulating back conforms in harmony with the waterfall-styled seat and allows the user to move naturally at the hip point. This organic movement creates a uniquely smooth ride while also providing the ultimate in support and comfort.”

Nima’s design and construction complement a variety of other furniture, including standard tables, café tables, training tables, classroom tables, teacher desks, computer tables, study carrels, temporary offices, lab furniture and fixed tables, particularly those from American Seating’s Focusline.

In addition to its Nima line, American Seating also will highlight its table program, which includes the Rely, Us and Alert lines.

“Alert we’ve been manufacturing for a while,” said Sean TenBrink, marketing coordinator at American Seating. “We recently repackaged and remarketed the product.

“The Us tables were released two years ago, and the cool thing about the Us table is it has a creative continuity with the Us chair that we also make.

“The Rely table is a relatively new table line for us. We released it last year at NeoCon and we’ve recently come out with a few more pieces of the line, which includes marker boards and lecterns.”

The table lines are a good fit for the higher education realm as well as training environments, while the Nima chairs also can extend into the contract furniture market, according to TenBrink.

“You can use it in a common area, cafeteria, as a side chair or in an office,” he said.

American Seating is mostly focused on the education market, however, and is particularly interested in showing architects and designers that it can provide freestanding seating options as well as the fixed-seating on which the company has built its reputation.

“We’ve been doing a lot of fixed seating and we are very good at it — we are a major player in that market,” TenBrink said.

“To be able to go to NeoCon and show these products that are freestanding … it’s really good for us to see our customers and let them know we can cover any room on a college campus, not just lecture halls, auditoriums and performing arts centers, but also those small 20- to 30-student classrooms.”

In fact, American Seating’s move toward providing more freestanding options in a variety of heights is a response to changing learning environments, which now require much more teamwork and collaboration than in the past, while still maintaining continuity.

“We are seeing collaborative lecture halls where they are combining fixed product with some freestanding or loose products,” Oswald said. “We are unique to the marketplace in terms of us providing both of those solutions.”

Clients want several seating and table options within the same setting, Oswald noted.

“One of the trends we are seeing is a tiered environment,” he added. “This would be in a level-floor classroom where you’d have progressively taller tables and chairs from front to back.”

Oswald said a tiered classroom improves sightlines for students.

In addition to changes within traditional classroom environments, American Seating also sees education environments being added in nontraditional spaces, such as dorm rooms or in the form of “mini-campuses” within a campus.

“They are creating education spaces near residence halls,” Oswald said. “There are a lot of opportunities for education space apart from just traditional buildings with classroom, classroom, classroom.”

American Seating thinks its Nima chairs and tables are a perfect fit for these new learning styles and environments and is looking forward to showing off the new designs.

“We’ve created a nice portfolio now of tables and chairs,” Oswald said.

TenBrink said the Nima chair would be in the running for the Best of NeoCon award in the education solution category as well as the Interior Design HIP Award in the education-seating category.

“It can do a lot of different things on a college campus, from a tall café chair to one of our fixed-focus lecture products,” he said.

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