We’ve reviewed office chairs on the site before and when I get a chance to look at one I’m usually overwhelmed with information about the adjustability, comfort, ergonomics or the like. With the SoFi the first thing to be pointed out to me was the smile. Not sure what the smile is? Look at the image below – can you see it now?
Some things in life just look friendly and the SoFi is one of these. The smile certainly helps but the tilting and narrowing back and the angle of the arms seems to add to it. I’m not sure if this feeling is just me but it makes a great first impression.
The chair comes in two back sizes (medium and large) and has optional arms and a headrest. I tried out a model with arms but no neck rest and it is extremely comfortable and after a month using it my back does not want to go back. The SoFi has a impressively high build quality and feels solid and weighty.
Like most SB Seating chairs the SoFi is highly adjustable. Once personalised it is designed to offer ‘BalancedMovementMechanism”. This basically boils down to keeping you balanced and subconsciously gently tilting backwards and forwards as you move. I’ve found it far more of a lean back experience than I expected and have previous met in office chairs. With a little adaption of my desk setup – mainly moving my keyboard and mouse a little closer to me – I found this novel but comfortable.
So what can be adjusted? From the perspective of someone sitting in the seat:
– The seat height is adjustable via a small lever pull switch on the left hand side. Pull up with weight on the seat and the whole thing sinks, pull up with no weight and it rises.
– The seat depth or how far back the backrest sits is adjusted by a slider under the seat on the right hand side.
– The lumbar support is adjusted by the slider in the middle of the back.
-The tilt resistance or how much effort the seat takes to tilt back and forth controlled by a slider near the central column on the bottom of the seat on the right hand side. Push in for less resistance out for more.
– Arm rest position. Each arm rest has a flip down lever that locks position. Open this and the arms can move forward and back and wider and closer to the seat. Each arm rest’s underside has a button that when depressed lets the arm move up and down.
– The whole seat can also be locked into one position with the slider on the bottom. This isn’t recommended and the only reason I can think of to do it would be for transporting or moving the chair.
The SoFi is designed to be an informal looking and reassuring chair that offers nearly the same amount of support as a full on task chair. It is styled to fit in open plan, conference and informal spaces and it looked comfortably in place in my home office. We’ve reviewed task chairs like the Logic 400 before and visitors have usually been cautious and sometimes intimidated by them. The SoFi conversely got admiring attention and requests to sit in it and adjust it.
SB Seating and HAG have a great reputation and set of policies when it comes to environmental impact and the SoFi is no exception. The SoFi is designed from mainly recycled components to have a 5 year hard use lifespan or 10 year normal use and once it has reached the end of its lifespan a majority of the components are recyclable again. No glues are used at any point in construction and each chair has a C02 footprint of around 63kg which is remarkably low.
Back height: 71.5cm
Back width: 44cm
Lumbar height: 17 – 23cm
Seat Depth: 38 – 49.2cm
Seat Height: 40.5 – 55cm
Seat Width: 45.8cm
Seat Inclination +14 degrees to – 16. 5 degrees
Height of armrest above seat: 19.3 – 30cm
Distance between armrests: 33 – 51cm
Length of armrests 23cm
Width of armrests: 10.4cm maximum
Diameter of base: 5 star
Castors: 65mm Carpet (soft) flooring is standard, options for hard floors also available
Optional extras: Adjustable lumbar support, adjustable headrest, higher backrest, standard arms, swingback arms,
Weight: 22.5kg with medium back and no accessories
Gas Spring: 150mm
The SoFi has a ten-year guarantee against all production defects for an average use time of 9 hours per day, 365 days a year. Multiply that out and that’s 32,850 of sitting time guaranteed against defect. If you need to use it more than 9 hours a day the warranty covers 5 years of 24 hour a day usage or 43,800 hours.
The gas lift also has a separate lifetime guarantee which is not dependent on usage.
There are no requirements for use of the SoFi. There are two versions of the castors available for hard or carpeted floors depending on your site. I was able to try the hard castors which worked well on my laminate office floor but also worked surprisingly well on a rug.
The SoFi is available in a very wide range of fabric colors. These vary from simple shades of black and grey through to far brighter reds and yellows. These are available as block colors or in some patterns and styles. It is common although optional to have a slightly different or opposite color on the Smile of the back bottom portion of the chair.
The metal and plastic parts of the chair are available in black, white or a number of shades of grey.
In short the SoFi can be matched to almost any color scheme or can be made almost completely neutral to fit in wherever it is needed.
The controls of the SoFi are all monochrome – in other words they are the same color as the color chosen for the base of the chair. They are not labelled on the chair and unless you have memorised what does what – a difficult task with so many levers – then adjustment is best done with the manual or website open in front of you.
There is no flash, flicker or any other bright aspects of the SoFi and it is equally usable by someone with reduced vision or hypersensitivity.
The SoFi has no speakers or microphone and is designed to be completely silent. After a month using the SoFi I don’t think I’ve head it make a creak, strain or any other sort of noise. It is accessible to those with hearing loss or audio hypersensitivity (hyperacusis).
The tutorial videos and animations provided by SB Seating to explain the use of the chair are all silent and accessible to those with any level of hearing.
Input and touch
My review unit had the standard textile cover (Fame) and I found it pleasant to the touch and comfortable. The fabric is breathable and even on the few hot days I’ve had it did not suffer from any build up of moisture. I did not find it rubbing even where I had bare skin against it, but I should note that Lily with severe skin hypersensitivity did have some irritation issues with the RH Logic 400 in her review which uses the same fabric types.
SB Seating offers a large number of possible fabric alternatives. These include:
– Xtreme: 100% recycled polyester for durability
– Fame: 95% wool and 5% polyamide for a softer durability
– Remix 2: 90% wool and 10% polyamide woven with different threads to give an irregular surface
– Steelcur Trio 2: 90% wool and 10% polyamide to woven in a specific pattern to give a regular but three-dimensional surface
– Nexus: 100% polyester with a granulated smooth surface resembling leather
– Note: 85% worsted wool and 15% polyamide to give a satin structure
– Comfort+: 88% Polyester 12% polyurethane to give extra stretch and avoid pilling or bobbling.
If none of these will work then it is possible to get a chair made up with a specific fabric, although bear in mind that this would not fall under the normal 10 year guarantee.
The SoFi has a number of controls. These are located in the middle of the backrest, under the seat near the edge, under the seat near the central column and on the arm rest. All are accessible when sitting on the chair but the ones near the central column were quite tricky to get to.
All the controls are large enough to grip with several fingers at once and comfortable to hold. Some controls are sliders, some need lifting, some unclipping and some are large buttons. Most need a reasonable amount of strength to operate but there is nothing to stop a third party being recruited if the user does not have enough hand strength. I found operating individual controls intuitive but knowing what a control did was not. There is no timing element involved in any of the controls and nothing to stop the user adjusting back and forth a number of times until the correct point is found.
The controls do not favor left or right handed users being spread symetrially on both sides of the chair.
In normal usage once I was setup for the chair I very rarely needed to adjust the controls and if you are going to be the chair’s single user it would be the same for you.
Motion sickness and balance disorders
The SoFi like most of SB Seating’s chairs is designed to move and to encourage the seated person to move. This motion is smooth and I think is more likely to be beneficial to those who suffer from motion sickness rather than detrimental. It is possible to lock the chair in position but that would rather defeat the design and is more likely to cause problems than fix them.
I had no problems with the chair tipping either getting in or out of it. The level of movement needed to make the chair rock or move was more than I was making with arm movements and as such it felt stable.
Ease of Use
Like most complicated ergonomic machines the SoFi is deceptively simple and impressively complicated. To get the best use out of it you need to have it setup correctly for yourself and that is not straightforward. Luckily most of the resellers will offer advice, often in person on how to do this and will help set it up on delivery. Post delivery there are on-line tutorials, videos, instructions and guides for those who prefer data over personal support and advice.
I would recommend a buyer to take advantage of the dealer and get a personalised setup and then touch the controls as little as possible.
Cognitive, language and math
Once set up the SoFi was easy to use and intuitive requiring no real mental work.
As with most chairs that emphasise movement rather than holding you still the SoFi has the potential to improve life quality for specific cognitive symptoms and neurological conditions. The most obvious manifestation of this is as a chair for someone with ADHD who functions better when moving and struggle to sit still in one place. The SoFi allows you to move and keep moving at the same time as being stable and in a fixed location. As I was writing this review I also realised I was dancing along to the radio while still be stable enough to keep typing. I may be unique but this helped my concentration rather than hindering me!
The chair also provides a way for those on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Asperger Syndrome who find rocking helpful to reap the benefit in a socially acceptable way without drawing potentially unwanted attention.
The SoFi is made out of a combination of materials including steel, aluminium, zinc, plastic and foam (polyurethane) and the standard covering is polyester or wool/polyamide. Sitting in the chair, my arms were in contact with the plastic arm rests but not in any other place. The seat cushion overhangs slightly so the backs of my legs did not touch the plastic in the base of the seat. If the plastic was an allergy issue when the arms are removed you would not ordinarily touch it.
The fabric selection is wide enough that most of those with a skin condition or allergy will be able to select the most appropriate fabric that meet their requirements. In an extreme case it is also possible to select your own fabric although it would not be covered under the warranty.
Scandinavian Business Seating (SBS) 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.
RRP from £749 including VAT for the basic low back model. This runs up to around £1100 for every possible option.
Retailer: SB Seating / HAG retail through multiple dealers including Posturite, Wellworking and the main SB Seating site.
The verdict is always the most difficult part of a review to write. The obvious question is: Did you like it? Yes. Would you keep using it given the chance? Yes. Is it durable and ergonomic? Yes, very much. Is it easy to use? Once setup its very easy to use. Who would you recommend it for? Casual, conference and open plan offices and home offices.
But that doesn’t really catch the feeling of the SoFi. I started this review with the SoFi’s smile and that’s how I’m going to end it. I’ve never had a positive emotional reaction to a chair before like I have had to SoFi. If you spend a lot of time in a chair, the SoFi should be at the top of your list of possibilities. It’ll smile with you.
The review is based on the SoFi HÅG SoFi 7220 with attached arms kindly provided by SB Seating.