Several years ago, KI introduced its Arissa collection, a line designed to address the seating requirements of all users, including bariatric and size-challenged individuals, without looking oversized.
The design team, led by veteran designers Paul James and Dan Cramer, spent an extensive amount of time researching the needs of varied groups before even putting pen to paper; the lessons learned from that process—plus some brand new ones—have been incorporated into the duo's latest collaboration with KI, the Soltice 7 collection.
“Our Soltice line has been very successful,” says Deborah Breuning, vice president of health care for KI. “We started discussing a line extension, and believed that there was an opportunity to integrate the lessons that we had learned from the Arissa collection into an expansion of the Soltice line.”
The goal for the expansion included creating pieces that would be appropriate for use in a variety of markets, including healthcare, corporate, hospitality and education. For healthcare environments in particular, designers looked to design seating that would meet the changing needs of children, the elderly and bariatric patients. That meant conducting on-site research, as well as reviewing existing KI data and product lines.
As the team began formulating early concepts for what would become Soltice 7, they focused in on a primary goal of the collection: to subtly address the stress levels of users in a way that brings therapeutic comfort.
“Healthcare is truly a 24/7 guerrilla warfare setting,” says Breuning. “Patients and their caregivers may be seated for long periods of time and their stress levels may be high, depending on the medical conditions they are experiencing. We needed pieces that were sturdy, and that users could get in and out of easily.”
The resulting collection includes a lounge chair, loveseat and sofa, all with arm heights of 28 inches. The hardwood construction features puzzle joinery and a webbed structure to withstand heavy use, while the line’s replaceable seats and backs maximize efficiency while reducing costs. Arm caps are also field-serviceable for repair or replacement.
“Because we have worked with the team at KI before, there is a great understanding between us regarding our collective design, engineering, manufacturing and marketing capabilities,” says James. “The design for Soltice 7 came together easily based on our previous experiences and common philosophy regarding product development and design. We all believe that a team must consider the requirements for a range of individuals, particularly those who may have special needs, such as bariatric users. We also believe that designing any new product requires the upfront involvement of engineering and manufacturing experts so that what we design can be efficiently produced.”
According to James, the collection is refined and presents an almost residential feel. And while any of the pieces would be appropriate for use in a home, they are designed to withstand the rigors of heavy use, based on the stringent performance criteria established for each piece—think of a woman who acts and appears elegant on the outside, but is tough as nails on the inside.
“Soltice 7 integrates the best practices from the Arissa collection, building upon the lessons that were learned following that line’s introduction,” James adds. “It is a cousin rather than a brother to Arissa, with the pieces having a similar design feel but departing in significant ways. This collection looks like it sits large but the pieces are not oversized. There’s a great visual stability to this line.”
The most distinctive feature is the line’s arm/leg design, which visually creates a seven and aids in ingress and egress. This beautifully crafted feature is available in KI’s standard wood finishes; when coupled with upholstery fabrics from KI or Pallas Textiles, designers can create an aesthetic that is traditional, transitional or contemporary. (COM options are also available.)
The line also falls in line with KI’s larger commitment to sustainability. It has earned GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification, and its wood components have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Designers James and Cramer agree that the collection celebrates craftsmanship and fine woodworking, and the industry response to Soltice 7 validates that sentiment. The collection was most recently named an honorable mention in the Nightingale Awards competition at the 2011 Healthcare Design Conference. But Cramer believes that the reaction from end-users has been the true success.
“The response to the design has been what we hoped that we would achieve,” he says. “The individuals involved in our tests said that it felt good to sit in these pieces and that they thought they looked good in them when seated. That is very important for all users, especially for bariatric patients.”
To learn more about the Soltice 7 collection, visit http://ki.com/.
Janet Wiens is a freelance writer based in Memphis, Tenn. She was formerly a marketing manager for HNTB and now works with industry clients to address their marketing and public relations needs. She can be reached at email@example.com.