The chairs we were given when I was in school were either age-old hard wooden benches or plastic 80’s stackable chairs. These were not much better ergonomically and had a scary habit of having the top detach from the bottom. By the time I got to university things had improved, but not that much – ergonomics was given a nod, but cost and durability were the prime movers and the result was usually a hodge-podge mish-mash of typist and plastic chairs.
Simple in design and stackable, the HÅG Conventio Wing Chair is aimed at this market and the conference sector. Describing the Wing as a simple chair might be doing it a slight disservice. The better way to think about it is a central stacking seat which can have lots of extras attached. Some of these extras include a writing tablet, arms, connectors to build the chair into rows, removable cloth seats or backs, four legs or swivel legs. The basic seat and back unit is the same and the parts can be swapped in and out as required. It looks simple, but a lot of thought and design has gone into making it.
Dynamic seating with self-leveling
I don’t expect any movement but a stable, solid and long-lasting seat when I sit in a basic conference chair. The Wing takes my preconception, fulfils it and then totally ignores it. Here’s how:
I was invited to put a book on the floor and then put one of the solid legs on the book and sit on the chair when I was first shown The Wing. Then I found one of its two secret features. It is self levelling. Put it on an uneven surface and the legs will adjust up and down and keep your chair flat and level. This works for variances under about two inches which is the vast majority of places you would want to be able to sit. So that gives a stable seat – how is that ignored?
SBS has a philosophy of promoting active movement in chairs rather than finding a single initially comfortable position and the Wing allows for that by putting the whole of the top of the chair – seat, backing, frame and writing tablet accessory – on a rocker. This lets you rock back and forth on the chair the way I was told not to in school without any of the legs lifting or any loss of stability.
It sounds funny and takes a little getting used to. The rocking is meant for micro breaks in between writing, but within a few minutes I was scribbling whilst rocking. It felt not just natural but right and was a significant aid to concentration.
Flexible seats with removable covers
The basic Conventio Wing chair seat design is available in six base models and with a number of extras. The base models can have 4 legs or a central rotating pole with a five-pointed star and castors at the base and have either a (removable) padded seat or back or both.
The Conventio Wing was originally designed as a conference, student and meeting chair and all three of those have one thing common – the need to take notes. The Wing can accept accessories clipped into the side and so HÅG came up with a plug-in writing tablet. It consists of an arm that sticks up at about 75 degrees 12 inches above the right hand side of the seat. On top of the arm is a small table which can be flipped vertical to make getting up and down easier or sit at a near flat about 10 degrees.
The writing area is 10″ wide and between 11″ and 16″ long as it curves away from the sitting person. It has a small pen shaped depression towards the top (which also works well for ring bound notebooks). If you are right-handed the writing tablet is in an ideal position to take notes on paper whilst still giving you as much free space around you as possible.
It can be used to write on paper of up to A4 size without difficulty and could be used for larger paper (or an open A4 notepad) as long as you do not mind some of the paper or note-book hanging over the edge. Me being me I had to try it with electronics as well and I can report that it works fine for one-handed operation of smartphones and 7″ tablets, not so well but passably for 10″ tablet and useably for my 12″ Chromebook.
HAG is a subsidiary of Scandinavian Business Seating which has a comprehensive environmental policy. All their products are manufactured based on their 5 principles of sustainability. The Wing chair is made of 26% recycled material and 71% of the chair should be recyclable at the end of its lifespan. In addition the modular construction of the chair means that damage is more likely to mean replacement of a part, such as a leg rather than complete junking and replacement of the chair.
The foam used contain no CFC or HCFC and the standard fabrics do not contain any flame retardant chemicals. It holds a Greenguard certification.
Back height: 87cm
Total width: 51cm
Seat Depth: 42cm (max)
Seat Height: 47cm
Seat Width: 42cm
Height of writing tablet above seat: 30cm
Feet: Plastic or felt caps
Optional extras: Writing tablets, arms, hanging hook, padded seat, padded back, connectors to fix multiple chairs together, cart to hold 15 chairs.
Weight: 8.8kg (not including writing tablet, padding or arms )
Colour: Textile – Black, white, grey, red, yellow-green and blue-grey, Metal – Silver or black
Textile: fabric wool/polyamide
Optimised for right-handed use – the writing tablet is right-handed only.
Warranty: 10 year guarantee
The SBS Wing Chairs is a highly accessible range to anyone with a visual impairment, including blind users, photophobia or colour blindness. There are no controls on the chair which need to be marked. The chair has no lights or any other features that could be problematic for anyone with photophobia (light sensitivity).
The plastic part of the chairs are available in a six colours, including high visibility, to suit users or a specific corporate or building design. These are black, white, grey, red, yellow-green and blue-grey.
It is highly accessible to anyone with a hearing impairment, including deaf users. The chair does not creak, squeak or click and operates silently, making it suitable for anyone with hyperacusis (sound sensitivity) who cannot tolerate noisy chairs. There can be a slight sound as the writing tablet is put in or removed but this is very unlikely to cause issues.
Touch and movement
It is a standard chair design with increased stability that makes it relatively easy to sit down on and get up of. The writing tablet flips out of the way and the stand is robust enough to withstand some pressure if someone pushes up on it. There is plenty of space underneath the chair to allow for the optimum position to stand up from, whilst at the same time leaving plenty of space for anyone who needs to use a leg rest.
There are no controls or ability to make any adjustments on the Wing chairs, with the exception of fitting or removing accessories.
Motion sickness and balance disorders
The chairs built-in rocking mechanism is smooth and as gentle motion often helps those who have motion sickness in the long-term it could be helpful for sufferers. The chair feels secure and the feet remain on the ground at all times so the movement is always controlled. Unfortunately there is no way to lock or stop the movement, it is a small arc, but the chair always moves and rocks and for a few this may be a deal breaker.
Ease of Use
The Wing chair is extremely simple to use. It has no controls or adjustments possible with the exception of flipping up or down the writing tablet. The tablet and arm are removable requiring a hard pull but no catches or unexpected motions. The Wing stacks with other Wing chair’s cleanly and with a minimum of catching of legs.
The Wing chair is constructed out of a combination of square aluminium piping, a hard plastic with a slightly rough texture – specifically PA GF30%, and the optional upholstery pads. The plastic codes can be simplified – it’s nylon with a little glass fibre in for structural stability. It is a commonly used combination and one that I have not been able to find any instances of people being specifically allergic to. If both of the optional pads are installed then you touch little of the plastic, only the backs of your legs behind your knees and only then if you are wearing shorts.
The fabric used for the pads is breathable and I found it pleasant to the touch but is somewhat rough and if against skin could be an issue for someone with sensitive skin. It is however optional and a choice of the plastic or fabric could be made.
It is made of hard surfacing and seating pads are removable and easy to clean. It is an ideal choice for anyone with asthma and a dust mite allergy.
Scandinavian Business Seating owns the Scandinavian brands HÅG, RBM and RH, and has about 470 employees working together to realise the company’s vision: “To make the world a better place to sit!” More information about the company here.
The most important question about a chair has to be: is it comfortable? I have reused The Wing in a variety of settings. As a visting chair for the office. A dining room table chair. In the kitchen. Occasional chair in the bedroom used when dressing. Fairly soon it ended up at my desk and I am sitting on it now a couple of weeks later having rejected my standard budget office chair. It is very comfortable.
In those movements from room to room the biggest thing that came up was how light it was – I found my four year old moving it around rooms and putting a cushion on it so she could reach the writing tablet and use it for drawing. The Conventio Wing is an elegant, lightweight and ergonomic chair and its secret sauce is the accessories. Recommended for schools, venues, conferences and anywhere that needs a lot of seats. Also recommended for outside the box use at home – we found the flexibility useful and comfortable as a dressing aid, it offers great support in the garden on a sunny day and it has to be by far the most comfortable and ergonomic dining chair we have ever tried.
This review is based on a HÅG Conventio Wing 9821 with writing tablet accessory kindly provided by SBS.