The Steelcase Gesture is a superb example of how radical the evolution of workplace design really is. We here in Silicon Valley and other technology centers are seeing the first fundamental change to workplace design since Henry Ford “invented” the production line.

Every aspect of the work experience is changing: architecture, hierarchical relationships, methodology, and collaboration. Everything been impacted by the advance of our technology. It’s a wonder to behold.

Evolution of the Task Chair: Man's Quest for Comfort

Any story about the evolution of the office chair must, by necessity, be a narrative, rather than a history. In this one, as with all great tales, there is a protagonist (The Office Worker) and an antagonist (The Machine)—as well as grand, overarching themes­, like Comfort, Efficiency and Beauty.

We begin our story around 1650 with an example that blurs the line between home and office—a hand­crafted chair for the home that cleverly converts to a table. And we end in the present day with high­-tech seat, Steelcase's Gesture, which similarly muddies the work-leisure divide: It accommodates both formal postures and relaxed ones—a response to the infiltration of the smartphone and tablet.

The designer of this chair has not fully embraced the concept of a collaborative work environment.