Buildings, Origami and Packaging Inspire Genus Elastomer Design
Notes and inspirations from Roger Webb; designer of the Genus Series by Highmark.
The anatomical form of the human back is complex, and when it comes to the design of chairs it poses a particular challenge. I have always been a great advocate of chair back shapes having a form into which the back can snuggly fit, holding it in the correct position with both lumbar and pelvic support, yet allowing for movement, ventilation and blood circulation. If the human body was the same size this would make the design of the back considerably easier, but body shapes come in a variety of sizes and forms. Chair backs often are relatively flat with foam and upholstery allowing for the human back to sink into its softness...not beneficial for healthy, long-term sitting in working conditions.
In designing the Genus elastomer back, the form of the back had to include positive back supporting curvature. The original Genus Mesh has this designed into it, while the flexibility of the mesh also absorbs and responds to a variety of body types. Transferring the comfort of this back to a polymer skin, a different design language needed to be considered. The material itself has a small amount of elasticity, but by looking at expandable packaging, that takes the form of anything it encapsulates, and the design of free form architectural structures where complex shapes can be produced through a series of linear contoured lines, the Genus elastomer back evolved.
This enabled us to build into it more elasticity, utilizing the concepts of architecture and free formed shapes, providing support, firmness or flexibility in zones where it is required. The Genus Elastomer back not only gives the sensation of suppleness, the elasticity in the structure responds to the body's movement giving it the feeling of softness, but more importantly support and ventilation for longer-term, healthy sitting. Like a honeycomb, the Genus Elastomer provides immense structural performance with the minimum use of material.