Steelcase Cogent vs Era: Which material is best?

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Steelcase as a company has built its reputation by offering quality products and excellent craftsmanship on its furniture. 

What sets them even further apart from the competition is that they offer the option to customise and order to suit your unique taste and preferences with more than one fabric line available.

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Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair - Licorice
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Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair - Licorice
  • Back mesh and Connect seat fabric are 100% polyester
  • Wheels for carpet flooring
  • Ergonomic chair – this stool height model includes adjustable seat depth, fully adjustable arms, adjustable lumbar, pneumatic seat height adjustment, recline tension adjustment, flexing back with...
  • All day comfort and back support – back technology features flexor system in the backrest conforms to your body and moves with you to support the spine as you change postures

Choosing the upholstery of a chair may be unimportant to some, but for others, this may be one of the most important factors as it personalises a chair and can determine the feel of an office space or the office chair you use at home.

Steelcase has a philosophy that:

  • Colour Matters
  • Choice Matters
  • Creativity Matters and
  • The Earth Matters.

In order to  make a good comparison, we will be comparing the following features between the Cogent and the Era upholstery options:

Table of Contents

CogentEra
Colour variety2723
Pattern and styleKnitted, single colour fabricGives softness to the look3-dimensional  mesh patternWoven, two coloured fabric,  Gives depth to the lookHerringbone pattern
Texture100 000 double rubs100 % polyesterKnitted fabric100 000 double rubs100 % polyesterWoven fabric
BreathabilityMakes it a little more breathable, makes you feel cooler than most other fabrics.On the lower end of breathability.
Firmness and stretchCan feel quite a bit of stretch, helping it to move with your bodyTextured with a little bit of roughness to it, less stretch, feeling less soft.
MaintenanceCleanable with both water-based and solvent-based products (WS).Cleanable with both water-based and solvent-based products (WS).
Warranty12 years12 year

Breaking it down

It is always good to compare apples with apples, thus the two fabric types will go head to head in the following comparison categories:

Colour variety

Each business or office would like to communicate something about their business with the furniture they choose. 

Some will choose classic styles and colours while others would want to play with colours to make the place more inviting or create a specific atmosphere.

Neutral colours can give an office space a sophisticated and modern vibe while brighter colours fit well into the urban style to portray an energetic vibe. 

The bigger the variety of colours to choose from, the more the office setting can be customised.

Different neutral colours blend together more easily.

The Cogent fabric line comes in 27 beautiful colours, offering brighter and more opaque colours.

For the Era fabric line, you can choose from 23 colours.

If you prefer neutral colours, this pallet will give you more options to choose from.

In terms of variety, the Cogent line is the winner.

Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair, Seagull Frame, Cogent Connect Graphite
172 Reviews
Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair, Seagull Frame, Cogent Connect Graphite
  • Back mesh and fabric are 100% polyester
  • Wheels for Carpet
  • Ergonomic chair – this model includes adjustable seat depth, fully adjustable arms, adjustable lumbar, pneumatic seat height adjustment, recline tension adjustment, flexing back with mesh upholstery...
  • All day comfort and back support – back technology features an innovative geometric design; weight-activated tilt mechanism responds automatically as you sit and move to ensure long-term support

Pattern and style

Style is always determined by personal preference. 

When choosing your style of fabric, you should take into account whether it is classic or trendy. 

A classic style can be adapted much easier over time while a trendy style may have to be updated from time to time.

The Cogent fabric has been knitted together with a single colour, giving it a three-dimensional mesh type of look.

On the other hand, the Era fabric line is woven in a subtle two-tone, creating some depth through the utilisation of a herringbone pattern.

The style the two chairs portray is purely a matter of taste, therefore you cannot choose a winner. 

The winner will have to be determined by the individual customising a chair.

Texture

Similar to the discussion on style, the texture will also be highly influenced by personal taste. 

Some people prefer a soft as possible feel for the upholstery of a chair. 

Others do not mind a little roughness on the seat of the chair.

The industry standard for extra heavy-duty double rubs commercial grade fabric requires an abrasion resistance rating of 30 000.

Both the Cogent and the Era have exceeded this required standard by more than 3 times, coming in at a rating of 1000 000. 

The only difference is that Cogent is knitted while Era is woven. Both fabrics are made of 100% Polyester.

The texture is yet again a matter of personal choice, making it difficult to choose a clear winner. 

However, the softness of the fabric tends to sway the scales in the direction of the Cogent.

Breathability

Different fabrics allow for different levels of breathability. 

This is an important feature if you sit in a chair for long hours. 

Nobody wants to become sweaty or spoil their clothing because of the lack of breathability.

Especially for larger people, breathability is a key requirement.

The Cogent fabric is quite breathable and this helps to keep you cool, especially during summer.

The Era’s fabric is a little less breathable because of the woven texture.

Breathability is an important feature to consider. 

In this category, the Cogent offers the best results.  

Firmness and stretch

For a chair fabric to function optimally, you have to find the right balance between firmness and stretch. 

Both too little stretch and too little support in the fabric may make the seat feel uncomfortable.

There is a good amount of stretch present in the Cogent fabric, yet it remains firm enough for sufficient support. 

There is a little bit of roughness to the Era’s fabric, with minimal stretch, resulting in a less soft feeling when touched.

Clearly, the Cogent has a softer and more comfortable feel and wins this category.  

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Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair, Air Back, Carpet Casters, Era Fabric (Pink Lemonade)
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Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair, Air Back, Carpet Casters, Era Fabric (Pink Lemonade)
  • Back mesh and fabrics are 100% polyester
  • Wheels for Carpet
  • Ergonomic chair – this model includes adjustable seat depth, fully adjustable arms, pneumatic seat height adjustment, recline tension adjustment, flexing back with mesh upholstery and upholstered...
  • All day comfort and back support – back technology features an innovative geometric design; weight-activated tilt mechanism responds automatically as you sit and move to ensure long-term support

Maintenance 

Chairs can easily be spoiled and the fabric will inevitably become dirty if it is used daily. 

The office environment is especially prone to picking up spots. 

Therefore, it is important to be able to clean the materials from spills, stains and spots. 

When cleaning the fabric, if it is of good quality, the chair may look as good as new.

After cleaning, you do not want the surfaces to appear creased.

Both the Cogent and Era fabrics can be cleaned with water-based as well as solvent-based materials.

The result is a tie in the category of maintenance.  

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Steelcase Series 1 Office Chair, Carpet Casters, Grey
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Steelcase Series 1 Office Chair, Carpet Casters, Grey
  • Back mesh and Buzz2 seat fabric are 100% polyester
  • Wheels for carpet flooring
  • Ergonomic chair – this model includes adjustable seat depth, height adjustable ONLY arms, pneumatic seat height adjustment, recline tension adjustment, flexing back with mesh upholstery and...
  • All day comfort and back support – back technology features flexor system in the backrest conforms to your body and moves with you to support the spine as you change postures

Warranty

When buying a chair, a warranty will always come into play. 

When a product is defective, buyers want to have the option for repair or exchange it in order to get good quality for the money spent.

As the structure of the Steelcase chairs are very good, you expect the fabric to match the quality standards.

Both the fabric types come with a 12-year warranty on the materials

The two fabric types end up head to head again with no clear winner.  

Pros and Cons

ProCons
CogentBreathableSoft with no itchy or scratchy sensationsPremium look
EraWrinkle-resistantFabric won’t pileNice aestheticLess breathableRougher texture

Final Verdict

Steelcase aims to develop products that meet its environmental design objectives of durability and recyclability, the elimination of harmful materials and sustainable harvesting. 

Both of these fabric types are durable and of excellent quality. 

They also come in a variety of colours, which is always a personal choice. 

The main difference comes in with the texture and feel of the fabric. 

Most people prefer a softer feel with a good amount of stretch when you want to move around on your chair. 

Therefore, the Cogent range of fabrics adds to an excellent sitting experience on the wide range of Steelcase chairs.

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