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Varier Backstage - Behind the Scenes of the Trendy Ergonomic Chairs!

Varier chairs

Varier, famous for its iconic kneeling chairs, is the current bestseller at Phil Zen Design. 
We are therefore very excited to share some of the brand's recent insights with Olivier Henry, Director New Business Development - eCommerce at FFL Brands, Varier's representative partner in North America. 

Olivier, tell us briefly about yourself and your connection to Varier?

For the past 12 years, I have been helping European manufacturers build their presence in Europe and the United States. Varier is an iconic brand with an international reach including North America, so naturally, I was thrilled to join the company three years ago. 
I will always remember my first Varier chair. It lasted less than a day until my wife took it from me, so I had to bring another one home. The following day, it disappeared again. This time, one of my sons fell for the chair. Today, I finally sit on my 3rd Variable Balans!  
I believe that my experience is a good illustration of a current trend. With the rising number of professionals working from home, chairs have to be more versatile and benefit the whole family. Also, customers used to buy our chairs to reduce their back pain whereas nowadays, they purchase our chairs proactively to prevent such problems. 
Varier Thatsit Balans

What is the concept behind the Varier brand?

Varier is a modern Norwegian brand focused on the individual's well-being and therefore inspired to promote movement. Since 1979, these chairs have offered a uniquely uncompromising experience, embodying activity, freedom, and innovation. They have been meticulously designed in close collaboration with some of the most iconic Scandinavian designers, including Opsvik, Øie, Ekstrøm, Salto and Sigsgaard, and have been widely recognized for their positive effects on health.

What in your opinion makes Varier so successful?

Although many of the chair designs go back to the 70s, they remain highly appealing due to a unique aesthetic expression that is timeless, original and beautiful. The Ekstrøm, for example, was successfully relaunched at the 2018 Milan Design Week. Also, wellness is increasingly on everyone's mind with studies that keep alerting us about the negative effects of our sedentary habits. Customers have been looking for alternatives to the traditional task chair. 

There are many marketed concepts out there but very few which give you the right posture and comfort all day. Varier designs get copied regularly but the comfort, quality of materials and manufacturing technique really set the band apart. It offers simple to use, smart, healthy and sustainable solutions that our customers enjoy customizing to their taste. We often get contacted by customers who bought their chairs 30 or even 40 years ago, and are still using them! I find it pretty amazing, when you think about it. Just one month ago, we received picture of probably one of the first prototypes of the Variable Balans, that as so well preserved that I thought it was a reproduction!

Actulum Balans

Phil Zen offers a wide range of personalization options and people love it!

Varier responds to the rising demand for personalized experience by offering customers many premium upholstery options to choose from. We are thrilled Phil Zen embodies this philosophy, as our clients really value being able to build their one of a kind chair. When you know you will keep your chair for decades, it makes the wait time worth it and I often see customers who are happy to wait several months to get the exact color and fabric they want to fit their interior.

Phil Zen is quite unique in their approach to design – they are always asking for new chairs, fabrics or colors to introduce to North America!

Phil Zen values working with sustainable suppliers. What is Varier's approach?

In Norway, it’s a prerogative to protect nature. Varier is proud to be part of a culture that invests in ethical practices that help turn profits into value for future generations.

Today, the majority of our components are made from fully recyclable materials.Varier meets or exceeds all local sustainability regulations. In addition, the production process at Trio Line, Varier’s long-standing manufacturing partner, has been optimized through strict implementation of lean and six sigma principles to minimize waste and energy consumption. 

Varier Variable Balans Manufacture

What has been the impact of the pandemic on Varier?

Like other brands, we have seen a significant increase in demand due to the lockdown as people organize their home office. As more businesses plan to shift to virtual work, we expect the demand to stay strong in the future. It had an impact on production times, but Varier has significantly increased the production capacity of their factories and wait times start to shorten again.


What is your insider tip to make your home office work best?

As we enter an era where an increasing number of us work from home, we will be faced with a choice of improving our home working conditions, and this can be done in a number of ways. One option is to arrange a dedicated workplace equipped with specialized office furniture. Alternatively, we can furnish our homes with versatile furniture that suits the combined demands of both leisure and work.

Gravity Balans

The body’s natural needs remain the same, whether you are eating dinner or preparing a presentation for your next meeting. 
To reach forward for a second serving at the dinner table requires the same movement as when you reach for your mobile phone at your desk.
When leaning back to stretch after enjoying a well-prepared meal, you perform the same movement as when leaning back to answer an incoming business call. 
The freedom to move is the essence of all Varier designs. As Peter Opsvik would put it, “The next position is always the best”! .

Discover the Varier collection