A few months ago the folks at Anthro Technology Furniture asked us to give an extended road test to three of their products-the Anthro Elevate Wrap table, Vert© chair, and Zido adjustable cart. We put all three to work in real-world office and studio settings, and the overall experience has been a striking reminder that good equipment extends beyond lenses, cameras, and digital technology. Successful creative professionals use every tool that improves efficiency and productivity, including furniture. They make their work space work for them.
What struck us first about Anthro’s products were their bulletproof materials, world-class design, and faultless ergonomics. But the lasting value of the furniture is in how much easier (and more pleasant) it makes the daily tasks of business.
In the interest of full disclosure we’ll mention that Anthro is kindly allowing us to keep the products covered in this review.
By far the most striking office chair we’ve ever laid eyes on, Anthro’s Vert© is distinguished by a long metal “spine” running up the back of the chair. As it turns out, it’s your back, not the chair’s, that was foremost in the designers’ minds. Each “vertebra” in the chair’s spine controls an adjustable support. By leaning back you can contour the chair to fit your back precisely, and then easily lock the chair into position. In other words, the Vert© is customizable to fit each person who uses it.
Needless to say, if you spend a significant portion of your workday sitting down, a chair that grows more comfortable the longer you sit in it is almost priceless. This is true under any circumstances, but especially true if you have back issues or find yourself sore on Monday after an active weekend.
Viewed from behind, the Vert© chair reminds us a little of The Alien. The protruding exoskeletal spine is unusual to say the least, and is often a conversation-starter when visitors stop by the office. But in every other respect, the Vert©’s design is clean, conservative, and attractive. The inner back (the part you sit against) is leather, as is the front of the seat (the part that your thighs rest on). The part your bottom sits on is cloth, which has the practical value of preventing sliding and the aesthetic value of textural variety.
The chair rolls smoothly on industrial-strength casters mounted to a five-point metal base-solid, sturdy construction. We should mention that the chair’s height from the floor, seat back angle, and armrest height are all adjustable, along with the back contour. The leather headrest is a nice touch, too. It folds out of the way when not in use.
Office furnishings can say a lot about a person. The Vert© is clearly an executive’s chair… but it’s a chair for executives who care about form, function, and comfort-not just superficialities.
Anthro told us that the Vert© chair would be a breeze to assemble, and when the staff klutz succeeded flawlessly on his first attempt, the point was proved.
Convenience may be the ultimate goal in studio design, but sometimes what’s convenient for one job is inconvenient for another. It can be a challenge to arrange equipment so that you don’t lose concentration or fumble around when moving from one task to another. It dawned on us that maybe we could move the equipment instead of the person, and we wondered if Anthro’s rolling Zido cart might be the solution.
A cart is a cart is a cart, right? Not exactly. Two things set Anthro’s Zido line apart: the quality of construction (which translates into ease of use as well as durability), and the amazing amount of customization available.
There are two core versions of the Zido cart. One is essentially a small work table on wheels- the work surface is attached to a column (adjustable or fixed, your choice) mounted on four heavy-duty rollers. The other is a pole cart: a single tall post attached to a roller base.
Both models can be configured in hundreds of ways, but the pole cart is a truly masterpiece of adaptability. Users can attach monitors (one or two), keyboard trays, shelves, drawers, work surfaces, bins, and even desktop computers in holders at the base. The pole cart is ideal for people who move from one work space to another, as in hospitals, for example. If you wanted to, you could stroll around with your entire office mounted to this cart.
Like the pole carts, the table-surfaced carts are also highly customizable. Accessories include monitor mounts, keyboard trays, drawers, bins, brackets, and shelves… all manufactured to the same high standards as the carts themselves. Given the wide range of options, ordering an Anthro cart is like having one purpose-built.
In our case, we use the Zido cart to hold a computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, with a lower shelf for various odds and ends, and a side-mounted bin for headphones and similar paraphernalia. It rolls into position easily, lockable casters keep it in place, and it’s sturdy enough to hold a small elephant. And, just as conveniently, it rolls out of the way when we want to work on something else.
At first the staff klutz had trouble assembling the cart, but all became right when he went back and found supplemental instructions in the bottom of the box.
Elevate Wrap Table
If you’re like us, the surface you’re working on is probably the last thing you think about… but nothing could be more central to a well-functioning studio or office. And if your idea of the perfect work surface is flexibility, ergonomics, and rock solid construction, Anthro has a table you should meet: the Elevate Wrap.
The Elevate Wrap table addresses two fundamental principles. The first-that the right height for various tasks can be different. The second-that the ideal shape for a work surface is a U-shaped curve, since it’s easier to turn than it is to stretch. These principles hold especially true for video professionals, Web designers, photographers, and other creative pros.
Anthro addressed the issue of height by designing a work surface that can be raised and lowered easily… not by hand, as is the case with most tables, but simply by pressing a button. A powerful and quiet electric motor does the work, and we can testify that nothing could be easier, smoother, or more elegant. This is one of life’s great small luxuries, better than power seats in a car, and a genuine improvement over anything other method we’ve ever seen for raising or lowering a table. According to Anthro, the table’s height can vary between 27 and 53 inches.
The work surface is divided into two separate areas-a smaller inner area in the front center, and a larger outer arc. The inner surface can be tilted forward, and is large enough to accommodate a keyboard, mouse, and tablet. The outer surface is ideal for multiple monitors.
Like the cart, the Elevate Wrap table can be customized in numerous ways using Anthro’s long list of accessories, which includes a desktop computer holder at the table’s base, document holders, and monitor mounts.
We should mention that the Elevate Wrap has a built-in power strip and that the work surface is underpinned by the sturdiest set of legs we’ve ever seen supporting a table. It rolls on five lockable casters, and it looks like it would take a serious effort to knock it over.
The Elevate Wrap is designed to be a professional’s work table, not a desk-it doesn’t have built-in drawers or a covered front. But it’s so convenient and so solidly built that we can easily imagine it serving as any professional’s primary work surface.
Assembly of the Elevate Wrap was simple and quick. Approx. 1 hour with a non-mechanical person…less if you have more of a clue than I.
It’s hard to find a shortcoming with Anthro’s furniture. The company’s designers put function ahead of form… but their products are handsome and attractive. Prices aren’t for the faint of heart… but costs clearly reflect quality, and are competitive with other manufacturers whose furniture is not as well designed or as well built. In our experience, Anthro’s customer service was first class. More to the point, Anthro’s products make working easier, more comfortable, and more efficient… which has to be every creative professional’s goal in a work space.
I’ve had two back surgeries and to be frank, this is just what the Dr. ordered. Literally. He ordered a stand up desk. I also recently read that sitting all day is as bad for you body as smoking. For all of you editors out there…pay attention! As we build out the rest of the company, we are going to be buying more and more of these desks and chairs.