The technology in the wheel underneath your office chair was reinvented more than 50 years ago and is living proof that attention to detail never goes out of fashion.
During April we will turn our attention to details in design and architecture. We kick our ‘It’s all in the detail’ theme off by looking at one little detail in the office space that we hardly think of, but appreciate every day. It’s Danish design at its best.
The KEVI caster by Jørgen Rasmussen, produced by Scan Castor
If you’re reading this while sitting in an office chair, there’s a good chance that you are currently resting on Danish design. The KEVI caster that is used on most movable furniture around the world was invented in the 1960s by Danish designer and architect Jørgen Rasmussen. It might seem a small detail, but it is a detail that revolutionised movable furniture and that is still viewed as the standard technology more than 50 years later.
In the 1960s Jørgen Rasmussen was in the process of designing the KEVI Chair, now produced and sold by Engelbrechts. In that process, an idea arose to improve the rollers under the chair. The existing rollers were clumsy, complicated to produce and caused heavy wear on the floor. After assessing various options, Jørgen Rasmussen came up with the idea of placing two nylon wheels around an axis, embedded in a plastic or metal house that turns around a vertical axis. It is really as simple as that.
Architect, designer and journalist Thomas Dickson has said the following about the KEVI caster: ‘The KEVI caster is brilliant because it solves a problem, and it does so in such a simple fashion that you say to yourself, “Yes, of course, that’s what it should look like.” The modest KEVI caster revolutionised office landscapes around the globe and has thus improved working conditions for millions of people around the world, an accomplishment that few designs can boast of. I use it every day without thinking about it.’
The wheels not only looked more elegant, but were easier to produce, rolled a lot better and reduced the wear on the floor by half. The design success was implemented by a minor furniture company that goes by the name of IKEA, among many others, and quickly became standard in almost every movable furniture design.
With several million KEVI casters and just as many copies in existence, the wheel is found under furniture across the world. Being synonymous with furniture wheels, it is one of those everyday design objects that we hardly notice, but use every single day. And though it might be a small detail, it can make a huge difference.