Custom Design

Designing the LessThanFive Chair


When Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett heard that Boeing was planning to use carbon fiber as the structure of their next aircraft platform, he was intrigued about its potential uses for furniture. What could our designers do with it? How could it be used to create products that better meet the needs of our customers? To find out, he asked Coalesse Design Director, John Hamilton and James Ludwig, Steelcase’s Vice President of Global Design and Engineering, to investigate.

Our designers are naturally curious about new opportunities. A new production technique or material can open up a whole new world of design possibilities. During their research, they got in touch with designer Michael Young because of his experience in working with carbon fiber, and Young ended up becoming their design partner in creating the LessThanFive Chair.

The goal behind the LessThanFive Chair was to create an elegantly designed product that made the most of carbon fiber’s strength and lightweight nature while remaining at a reasonable price point. The end result is one of the most versatile chairs available. With each chair weighing less than five pounds, workers have the freedom to pick up the chair, move around and truly work from anywhere. The carbon fiber material enables the LessThanFive’s appearance to be customized to a degree that is unique to the industry. As Coalesse designers discovered, carbon fiber brings new opportunities for mobility and comfort in the workplace.

Read more about the process of creating the LessThanFive Chair in a Q&A session with John Hamilton at

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