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Talking to Marcelo Alegre about our A+S WORK chair

Talking to Marcelo Alegre about our A+S WORK chair

MAY 2023 | 5 minutes

"To find the chair of 2030, we looked for three very simple values such as lightness, intuition and sustainability. All this implies health, without forgetting that it is an office chair, a 'tool' that allows people to work in it every day".

We chatted with Marcelo Alegre, CEO of Alegre Design, about the new A+S Work (Active Solution for Work) chair he has designed for Actiu. A piece that combines innovation, design, technology and ergonomics; designed by and for people and their well-being, and linked to the firm's philosophy of sustainability: it has been developed entirely in Actiu, with a km0 philosophy and a production 10 km away, it is recyclable, innovative and inclusive, and has a very large circularity component.

A+S Work is presented as a platform, what is it and what does this term imply?

The first thing to be clear about is that A+S Work is a new office chair platform. Actiu is not a chair assembler, but a chair manufacturer, which is an important difference. I have been working with chairs for 20 years and now we are facing a new challenge: a new platform, which means starting from scratch without any pre-existing standard components on the market or produced in-house. 

This is not the first platform you have designed for Actiu, with whom, in 2006, you presented TNK. How did that first initiative come about?

The previous platform, the TNK, which was made in 2002 and launched on the market in 2006, gave rise to the TNK 20, TNK 30, TNK Flex, etc. chairs. This platform was born out of Actiu's desire to move from being a chair assembler to a chair manufacturer. A very big ambition, which involved a lot of innovation in aluminium production plants, ergonomic improvements, in the workshop, in the technical office, etc., from which TNK and its patents were born.

How and why is this new platform being born now?

A+S Work was born out of the question of what the new platform will be in 2030. Before the pandemic arrived, and with it the obligatory teleworking and other needs that were unknown at the time, Actiu was already wondering what spaces would be like in 2030. We saw that there was a concern in the world and we had to generate a platform that would respond to this new future and to the office in 2030, intuiting people's needs and anticipating them.

What makes A+S Work 'the chair of 2030'?

To find the chair of 2030, three very simple values were sought: lightness, intuition and sustainability. All this implies health, without forgetting that it is an office chair, a 'tool' that allows people to work in it every day and that it must provide the right and precise support, and respond to all postural changes in a stable, reliable and silent way, as well as complying with the stipulated ergonomics regulations and certifications

We were looking for an inclusive chair, which fulfilled all the functionalities of a high-level product and with a very efficient production, maintenance and functionality.

You know very well not only the conceptual part, but also the engineering and processes, and this is the great value that links you to Actiu. Tell us about the design and manufacturing process of the A+S Work.

The first thing we wanted was for the platform, which is the technological part of the chair that provides mobility, to be very fluid and light, so that it could be integrated both in a corporate work environment and in a home. Above all, the idea was that it should not be visually invasive, with an excessive amount of adjustments and levers, but intuitive, safe and inclusive to adapt to increasingly fluid and changing workspaces, without fixed users and where workstations are not normally assigned. The term 'light' is closely linked to the term 'health', so it could not be a heavy element, it had to be ergonomic, generate wellbeing and allow easy and uncomplicated use.

It is a chair that from the very first moment provides an optimal sitting position without the need to adjust anything, and this is a step forward in terms of occupational risk prevention. How has this been achieved?

We have done a lot of engineering, testing and prototyping, so that the chair can be used by people of different sizes. At the first level, the chair is self-weighing, as the user sits and without the need to touch anything, it adjusts; and then there is a more 'fine' adjustment for those who are looking for certain details. The same goes for the back of the back, which is refined to the maximum through a simple curve. After 20 years of making chairs, with their consequent trials and errors, we know what curves need to be made so that they support well, through a simple gesture that was already used in 2003 in Idonia, in 2006 in TNK, years later in Winner and now in A+S Work.

You refer to the A+S Work as a sustainable, ergonomic and inclusive chair, tell us more about it.

It is a sustainable chair, made from different types of plastic, all recyclable and recycled, some even in non-visible parts. The lifespan of a chair is reduced to between 5 and 10 years because of the upholstery, but in this case, because it can be assembled, repaired and maintained, it can be extended much longer. In addition, the packaging design has been made super compact and is manufactured within a 10 km radius of where it is assembled and distributed. It couldn't be more sustainable, and ergonomics is out of the question. It has to be comfortable, intuitive and inclusive for everyone, with total accessibility for all physical and economic conditions. In addition, it can be segmented with finishes and configurations that allow its use in any space, work, domestic or public.

Let's talk numbers, what does the creation of a platform involve and imply?

A platform is designed every 10-12 years and a product every 5 years, so the former involves much more investment. If making a new chair based on off-the-shelf components requires 140,000 euros and two moulds, the A+S Work required 1 million euros and 33 moulds. Moulds that include everything from a hanger for hanging jackets on the backrest, to all kinds of arms or seating systems with configurations ranging from the very basic to the very advanced, all of them easily configurable. This platform will allow us to launch seating products very quickly and efficiently from a chair designed for 2030. Whoever decides to implement the chair today will be equipping an office for 2030.