Knoll Regeneration Desk Chair Made of Corn, Soy, and PET Bottles (Review)

Mairi Beautyman/CC BY 2.0

I'm slightly afraid to even do a review of an office chair on TreeHugger -- where staff have full-on embraced the standing desk movement (or, anti-sitting movement, as you wish). Mike says a standing desk changed his life and Lloyd has been raving about them for years.

Plus, it seems every week there's a new study released suggesting sitting is slowly killing us: Most recently, one suggests that I, as a woman who regularly exercises, sits just as much as women who are more sedentary. Great.

Evaluate how much you sit with this handy tool.

But while I do plan to try out the standing desk, I suspect there will be times when I will just need to sit. A perfect world would include both workspace options. Until then, we have the ReGeneration office chair from Knoll, which I had the pleasure of trying out this fall.

Mairi Beautyman/CC BY 2.0

Designed by New Zealand's Formway Design this office chair is overflowing with eco cred -- but you would have absolutely no idea looking at it. This, I believe, is essential for a mass-market release, so Knoll earns major bonus points here. But then again, Knoll is a major player when it comes to office systems and has been rolling out high-quality office furniture for decades, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.

Eco Low-Down

  • flexible back netting employs rapidly-renewable materials derived from corn byproducts the chair is 2% rapidly-renewable by weight
  • 44% to 48% are recycled materials, including high postconsumer recycled content from plastic water bottles in the frame and arms
  • upholstery foam uses biobased content derived from soy

Says Paul Wilkinson of Formway Design:

It is very, very important that we have the whole environmental perspective on the whole project so it's not just about recycled content. It's also about shipping efficiencies it's about what happens to the product at the end of life. So ensuring that throughout the process it's very much holistic is the idea of environmental performance in the product.

The Assembly

Mairi Beautyman/CC BY 2.0

While I am a fairly tech-savvy person, don't ask me to program the remote. This chair came to me fully assembled -- but Knoll says it breaks down in to two parts, easily connecting at the base (I have yet to figure that out).

The few gears it has are easily to wrap your mind around. Arm rests raise a good six inches thanks to a side lever. These also move a few inches towards you or away -- depending on how you want to rest your elbows. Beneath the seat, a lever on the right makes height-adjustment a breeze and a lever on the left pulls the seat forward or back. All were self-explainable after a few minutes of exploration.

I also didn't experience that slow sink or rapid height change with abrupt movements that some office chairs (embarrassingly) seem to come with.

Weight

Since the chair weighs less than 30 pounds, it was easy to hike it up six flights of stairs to my apartment and less carbon is consumed with shipping.

Knoll says:

ReGeneration has seven major parts, requires 10 standard screws for assembly and weighs just 26 pounds—37% less material and 11 pounds lighter than the Generation chair, which itself is approximately 20% lighter than most high performance chairs.

Comfort

In his review for Wired, Michael Calore gushes about the optional lumbar support found on the back. My chair didn't come with that, but I wish it did, as the back as is seems a bit too flexible to my liking. Yet as a serial lean-in-over-the-desk slumper, I do feel the chair forces me to sit in a way beneficial to lumbar support. With my back pressed against the netting, my back is straight and my feet are planted on the floor. I'm 5'5 -- but the chair seems to have plenty of room on either end to suit smaller or larger folks.

As I tend to roll around a fair amount while I work -- to grab the phone, put a book away etc. -- I pay particular attention to wheels. Regeneration passes the roller test with flying colors, offering a nice smooth ride.

Like to lean back on put your feet on your desk? This chair is not for you.

Mairi Beautyman/CC BY 2.0

I have no complants about the seat cushion at all -- it's supremely comfortable, and it allowed me to do away with the pillow I've used for years.

Style

Mairi Beautyman/CC BY 2.0

Regeneration has a nice slim silhouette, but it would be more at home in a corporate office than surrounded by teak mid-century modern Danish furniture, as it now is. I wish the frame was white instead of dark gray, but at the moment color options are limited to the back netting and the seat cushion.

Overall

This is a solid, comfortable high-quality office chair with a relatively low price point compared to similar offerings and other Knoll desk chair releases. On the green front, it is lightyears away from what's on the market -- and manufacturers should take note and imitate.

Knoll/Promo image

Check out a video on Regeneration here.

Knoll ReGeneration chair, starting at $800)

Tags: Chairs | Designers

Best of TreeHugger