Recommended by chiropractors around the world, a proper kneeling chair uses the “open body angle” approach to seating. The open body angle approach to seating seems to be all the rage, highlighted in the latest designs by such manufacturers as Herman Miller, Knoll, Steelcase and Humanscale, when in fact these major players are late to the game.
Long before any of these companies recognized the harmful way conventional chairs are built, a Norwegian designer by the name of Peter Opsvik had it figured out. Opsvik's "balans" chairs, like the HAG balans and the Stokke (now Varier) Variable balans were the first chairs to recognize what is now being commonly accepted as the preferred way to sit.
the HAG balans
the WING balans by Varier
This review will focus on a chair called the "WING" balans, by Varier, which is the first cousin chair to the more well known HAG balans.
Since HAG has decided to discontinue its balans chair, I thought it would be useful to the legions of HAG fans to introduce them to a chair that is for all intents and purposes the same chair in function, the principal differences being aesthetic. The HAG is made on a stamped aluminum star base while the Varier is made with a wood and steel base, which we believe is more far more attractive, particularly for home/office use.
The forwardly-slanted seat and supportive shin cushions open the angle of the hips to 120 degrees, instantly relieving pressure on the 4th & 5th vertebra and placing the spine in alignment above the hips. This provides a more natural posture for the spinal column and allows for extended sitting.
The balans chair’s shape forces the hips more forward, which naturally balances and stabilizes your body. This sitting position greatly reduces the strain on the lumbar portion of the back, improves breathing and increases flexibility. Initially, in some 30 somethings or 40 somethings, sitting in the chair may feel unusual or take a period of adjustment. As well you will be awaking muscles that you may not have used, but after a short period of adjustment, most users swear by this chair.
“Balans” was originally used as a term for the first Norwegian chairs that allowed users to sit in this position. Progressive Norwegian thinker Hans Christian Mengshoel conducted the first experiments in the kneeling concept. Three Norwegian designers (Peter Opsvik, Oddvin Rykken, and Svein Gusrud) developed their own solutions based on Mengshoel’s principles. Opsvik emphasized variation and movement in his solutions and is generally regarded as the father of this innovative way of seating, which it is fair to say, launched a whole wave of imitators (sad to say, most of the "knock-off" kneeling chairs on the market today, fail to grasp the principal, thus contribute to some misunderstandings about them....more on that in another post.)
Varier produces a number of "balans" chairs, each with its own attributes. The benefit to the wing is that it is on a familiar wheeled base (unlike the Variable) and thus is the preferred solution for an "L" shaped work environment or for a user who needs to rotate while working.
The WING has a fully adjustable shin rest and a gas lift, which can be special ordered in any of 3 different range lengths, to accommodate a variety of users from very petite, to very tall.
The fit and finish on the chair is exceptional. Varier is known for its quality as well as functionality. The "S" shaped laminate which holds the shin rest, we believe is a far more attractive solution that the aluminum arm of the HAG. As well it can be ordered in any of 8 different fabric choices, a variety of woods and over 250 colors for literally thousands of custom choices.
And if you are concerned about the environment, take a look at the Varier Environmental page. This is a company that is honest and committed to the environment. Like many Norwegian companies, they are light years ahead of Americans and "light decades" ahead of Asian manufacturers in their respect for the environment.
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