This is a prototype chair from IKEA - specifically, a prototype chair for gamers.
The furnishing and homewares giant showed off the prototype as part of a design talk yesterday in Sydney. It's part of a new push by the Swedish firm to cater to a market that they've previously ignored: chairs and other accessories for gamers.
It's part of a broader collaboration between IKEA, UNYQ and Area Academy to create furniture for gamers and esports in particular. Tommy “Potti” Ingemarsson, one of the original Counter-Strike professionals, explained that esports was lacking a lot of basic considerations that traditional sports had - ergonomics being a great example.
"If you want gaming stuff, it looks like it's designed for a 15-year-old kid, that's why I'm happy about this collaboration," Ingemarsson said.
IKEA's head of design, Markus Engman, said IKEA would utilise 3D printing to ensure each chair was appropriate for every person. "Everyone's trying to design a perfect chair, but that is an impossible task, because everyone has a different sitting curve in their body," he explained.
The prototype pictured above was an example of IKEA's direction. It's not entirely 3D printed - the production time would be immense if 3D printing was used for the entire frame - but through photometrics captured in store - basically building a 3D scan of your back, butt and general body shape - it would help IKEA create more customised chairs that are also cost-effective to produce on a larger scale.
Part of IKEA's push stems from the fact that the gaming audience, as noted by panel host Stephanie Panecasio, has grown to around 2 billion people globally. Not all of those users are sitting upright at computers or playing in fixed locations, but more and more gamers are customising rooms and areas in their house specifically for gaming, and major designers and furnishing brands had failed to factor in the considerations of those users.
Area Academy, Ingemarsson noted, experimented with IKEA previously in Sweden by customising one of the in-store rooms specifically for gaming. After redecorating the room to be more gamer friendly, customers would come into the store and start taking photos and selfies in the redesigned space. "If you look at [a regular] IKEA warehouse, you don't see that effect of people taking pictures in the warehouse sending pictures to family and friends," he said.
Steven "Bajo" O'Donnell, who was also on the panel, added that cable management was a particular area where IKEA's expertise could be useful. After showing some photos of the back of his streaming setup - it's chaotic - the former Good Game host noted that it would be good to have more desks designed around the needs of PC gamers.
The panel didn't go into specifics about what kinds of chairs or furnishings IKEA would offer in the short-term, so it's not clear if IKEA would go for full-back chairs or smaller designs like the one pictured above. A release earlier this year noted that the first offerings won't be made available until 2020, although in a Q&A at the end Engman noted some changes to IKEA's retail space should be expected as part of targeting this new market.