Independent Overall Rating: 7 of 10
Pros: The Cobi Chair is a truly good looking piece of furniture. It’s light, modern, sophisticated even, and it’s vibrant; the colors are bold and mood-enhancing. The similarity of the design to Apple computers and appliances is striking without being plagiarism, and it’s a bright, satisfying style.
Cons: Not extraordinary in any performance field; not especially comfortable or supportive (though it is ordinarily so), not attuned to high performance.
Overall Rating: The Cobi Chair makes up for it’s ho-hum scores in performance and design by being so strong in the Style category, and because of it’s pedigree. This is a chair that will serve ably in your office, and look great while it does.
The Cobi Chair comes with the reputation of the little chair that could, the simple, straightforward office chair that keeps you comfortable using efficient material and construction. It’s certainly a small chair, with streamlined parts to match. The backing of the chair came up to the tips of my shoulder blades (I’m 5’10”) and the seat extended to about mid-thigh, maybe less. The armrests are slight, about 8 inches long and two and a half wide, but less than half an inch thick. Now, did this slight miniaturization make the chair uncomfortable? No. The Cobi Chair actually performed fairly well in that regard, and the support the chair provided was more than acceptable as well. The padding on the chair is very traditional and not particularly soft or well-cushioned, but not every office chair user prefers a softer seat. Ergonomically the chair didn’t have much to offer; no special features and little performance technology. Aside from it’s beguiling stylization and attractive profile, the chair is pretty plain, but above the common average in comfort, design, etc. Overall, this an office chair that looks pretty, is capable of doing the basic tasks of a larger or more well-appointed chair, and serves it’s basic purpose (comfort and support at work) basically well.
The “X” Factor
The edges of the chair are flexible. The edge on the back (at the top) is attached rubber, and bends very easily. The entire backing of the Cobi Chair is very flexible.
The Bottom Line
The Cobi Chair looks great, and could never be convicted of dereliction of duty when it comes to the other important aspects of the office chair. The 7 out of 10 rating was close to being a 6, however, and it is suggested mainly for those who love style or who don’t need a truly heavy-duty ergonomic work chair. It’s also a good value at $399, pretty well below it’s main competitors on the fine office chair market.
The Cobi Chair is above average when it comes to comfort. While the seat of the chair is small and the padding simple and old-fashioned (in other words, no gel-coated technology or ergonomic innovation) it does it’s job, which is making sure you don’t have to get up and down, stretch or grin and bear it when sitting for long periods of time. As far as support goes, the chair is also above average in that category. While the backing of the chair and the armrests are slight, they are definitely supportive, and obviously well designed in their less-is-more aesthetic. There are no true ergonomic features when it comes to the Cobi Chair, but there are a few neat additions. For example, the seat of the chair provides resistance to the sitter; when you stand up, it slightly rises, and when you sit down heavily, it depresses to accommodate you. When it comes to comfort, Cobi is solid all the way through.
The design of the Cobi Chair is all about possibility. Instead of creating lots of features to revolutionize or rejuvenate the tried and true (and tired – say that five times fast) mold of the average office chair, the designers have merely opened it up. The slightness of the chair, the airy-ness of the design, is all related to the idea of movement and freedom while sitting at work. The lack of functions, and the versatility of the chair, are meant to be the design. Color me not entirely convinced. There are other chairs, like the Generation Chair, that take the idea of freedom of movement and really do something with it, include features and innovation, and the Cobi Chair doesn’t do that. Less is indeed more in many cases, but when it comes to office chairs, that’s not usually true when it comes to design and features. There is an advertised center-of-gravity identifying and compensating “weight activated mechanism,” that is meant to adjust the chair to accommodate your personal needs, but it’s effects are slight, not really noticeable.
This is one area where the Cobi Chair really stands out. Smart Furniture’s review compared the cloud-like, smooth-edged design to Apple computers, and that’s apt. The white borders with an array of vibrant color options for the the back and seat definitely make for an attractive facade. The profile of the chair looks great as well, with the sleek concise angles, arms and surfaces combining to create a lovely and harmonious whole. The Cobi Chair looks great, and there’s no denying it.
Steelcase is a furniture giant, operating across the globe with an excellent reputation. They are responsible for Think Chair, the award winning office chair, as well as Cobi. Steelcase has plants across the globe, including in America, and they maintain high environmental standards and practices. Their furniture, storage solutions and design have won countless awards and fans.
The Cobi Chair has several environmental advantages. It’s made by Steelcase, one of furniture’s most conscientious companies, and vended by Smart Furniture, another upstanding member of the growing number of responsible and sustainable furniture companies. Another is the lack of material present in the chair; that’s what makes it easy to recycle and lessens it’s impact on the earth – there’s less of it to throw away!
This is sort of a weak category for the Cobi, as it has no real performance enhancing features (unless you accept their proclaimed intention to make a chair that promotes movement as a performance feature). But it is reasonably comfortable and supportive, above average in both categories, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.