In the quest of an office work chair

01 Dec 2010
IKEA KLÄPPE

When you are working for hours behind a desk, it happens to be sitting on a chair. It is usually an office chair and although you probably never thought about it, it must be an office Work Chair.

Many of you think that the best chairs out there are the "executive" ones. It is a common mistake. People want to be treated like an executive but that does not mean that an executive chair is ergonomically sufficient for many-hour working on a desk/computer. I don't know in which criteria a chair is declared as an executive one. An executive chair, as in ads and manufacturers leaflets/catalogs, is usually a comfortable and imposing leather (or pseudo-leather/vinyl) chair. It is not mentioned in those ads and product catalogs that an executive chair is to be used for a slightly lay-back sitting position while conferencing – watching presentations – client meetings etc...

I also don’t know if there is an executive chair with all the ergonomic features and functions for long desk-working periods, but if it exists it is certainly not the “best price” one you bought for <100 euro/dollars at the super market.

In case you have the money and you don’t want to spend thousands of them for low back pain problems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_back_pain) in the future, I can give you only one advice: Buy the most expensive work chair you can afford, it is for you health. This expensive chair must provide the 5 essential features.

The 5 essential features required in an ergonomic work chair:

  1. Adjustable seat depth for optimal leg comfort
  2. Adjustable back height to allow the lower back to be correctly supported
  3. Adjustable Arm Height for ease of movement and minimize the risk of RSI
  4. Pneumatic height adjustment to suit your body height and weight
  5. Adjustable tilt tension allowing each individual user to set the correct pressure

I have done some research. It is a tiny internet research that does not apply to the whole real world office chair manufacturers and resellers. I am excited about the Herman Miller products http://www.hermanmiller.com/Products/Seating/Work-Chairs. They have innovative technology and design aesthetics.

The Aeron chair is one the most famous office chair designed in 1994 by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf. It is an ergonomic chair that is regarded by many users as inherently very comfortable due to its wide range of fit (available in three sizes) and adjustability. Its novel design has gained it a spot in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. The chair's exclusivity became a symbol of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s (http://www.hermanmiller.com/Products/Aeron-Chairs | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeron_chair).

The Embody chair is the one I felt in love with (http://www.hermanmiller.com/Products/Embody-Chairs). You can read a nice review of it at http://gizmodo.com/5071571/herman-miller-embody-review-the-best-chair-weve-ever-sat-on.

I never actually sat on those chairs but I have tested many other on the Greek market. Even some of the expensive ones were not up to the criteria. Here are some tips to apply before you buy:

  • Be sure that the chair has the 5 essential features mentioned above.
    Skip the Adjustable Arm Height if it is not necessary for you.
    Skip also the Adjustable seat depth only if you find yourself comfortable with the depth provided. Sometimes seat depth is good to be adjustable although you feel comfortable. Different tasks and sitting positions may require the seat depth change.
  • Take your laptop/notebook or book with you and try to seat at an upright position, at least for an hour. They must provide you that time to decide. You are buying an expensive piece of furniture that has a direct effect on your productivity and health.
  • Ask others for their opinion on a chair they bought. Please keep in mind that people tent to over-defend their choice. Read reviews on the internet.

 

IKEA KLÄPPE

One “price for value” chair I am sitting on right now and I can recommend is the IKEA KLÄPPE (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00070366 I think “Lehult dark gray/ silver color” is better and cheaper). Attention: It may cannot be adjusted for tall people, seat depth is a bit shallow but I like that can cope with that.

Key features:

  • Approved for office use; comfortable to sit on during long working periods.
  • Height adjustable seat and backrest for maximum support regardless of body height.
  • Adjustable seat depth and built-in lumbar support give your back just the right support.
  • Adjustable and lockable tilt function for increased stability and control in different sitting positions.
  • Synchronized tilt function in seat and backrest; the chair follows your movements when you lean forward or back.
  • Height adjustable armrests relieve strain on arms and shoulders.
  • Armrests fold back so they will not be in your way when you sit close to a table top.

Designer: Olle Lundberg (http://www.lundbergdesign.com/)

 

Kneeling Chair

A kneeling chair is a type of chair for sitting in a position with the thighs dropped to an angle of about 60 to 70 degrees from vertical (as opposed to 90 degrees when sitting in a normal chair), with some of the body's weight supported by the shins.

The intended purpose of a kneeling chair is to reduce lower back strain by promoting proper spinal alignment. People with coccyx or tailbone pain resulting from significant numbers of hours in a sitting position (e.g., office desk jobs) are common candidates for such chairs. However, it is by no means proven that kneeling chairs are an optimal solution, and many alternative chair styles should be considered. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kneeling_chair)

I have tested a friend's kneeling chair and I must say that I felt very comfortable sitting and working in that position.

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