This is a guest post by Michael Samsel who is a writer on the subjects of home design and green home practices. A co-founder of StylishHome.com, its “good design” mission emphasizes individual design personality, the eclectic and hand-made, and a commitment to green home pursuits.
Sitting and working, hours on end, staring at the monitor, while minding the mouse and keyboard. As this has come to define the workaday world, office furniture manufacturers seized the opportunity, quite effectively I might add, to fill the void… offering you comfort and ergonomic correctness… in such a cool way as to become fashion. Of course part of that process involved converting you from a $100 purchase to something more in the range of $1000. But – it’s better built, better for you, greener, and helps suffering through your hours on duty just a little more tolerable. Here are a few noteworthy contenders:
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
The Aeron chair showed up on the scene in 1994 – just in time for the Internet juggernaut. It quickly became the de rigueur office piece even for desks of plywood on sawhorses. It’s probably the only office chair recognizable by name, and, it questioned the whole premise of what constituted a comfortable and status appropriate chair. Over the years, varying colors, sizes, finishes and feature tweaks have kept it fresh. It is still much in demand.
Not to go too far with the science, these chairs did have considerable science in arriving at their design, predominantly a result of studying the specific postures of the computer user. Realizing that a more reclined posture during work that equalized weight was preferred, the chair designers went about providing flex in areas such that you didn’t slide out of the chair, while leaving your feet on the ground, and still providing support for a proper screen viewing angle. Perfecting, as you might say, the user’s angle of repose.
Steelcase Leap Chair
To say the competition was alarmed might be an understatement. Since then, never has so much science and design effort gone into the common office chair. Steelcase, a leader in the office furnishings business worked with the design consultancy, IDEO, to develop their Leap Chair. With such heady projects as Apple’s first mouse, and Palm’s PDA, Steelcase obviously spared no expense to develop a worthy alternative.
The Leap Chair is a result of work by dozens of scientists and 4 years of research. It has both the Silver Cradle to Cradle Product Certification and the SCS Indoor Advantage Certification. Studying how the spine moves, the Leap’s LiveBack® system changes shape to support the entire spine. And did I say “no mesh”? For those who find the draft on your underside from mesh chairs chilling, take a Leap.
Knoll Life Chair
Knoll is certainly no slouch in the office furnishings category. So it should come as no surprise that they would throw their hat into the ring. Working with Formway Design in New Zealand they introduced their “Life Chair” in 2002. It’s fine minimalist profile and “move with you” functions have won this chair high praise and many awards.
Allsteel Acuity Chair
In partnership with Milan-based Design Continuum Italia, Allsteel introduced the “Acuity Chair”. Its clean design, intuitive controls, and durable aluminum frame are mere bonus to its ideal ergonomic comfort. Try the optional back jacket with leather panel for the look of luxury.
Now these are just a few and the best known of office chairs. They are all “investment grade”, but ones which you may very much appreciate over time. Finding opportunities to “test drive” your top choices and, if possible, along side the desk you have or want, will help in your decision. Or, take a few cues and find other less expensive alternatives. One last word… “polished aluminum”. It is all the rage and nearly every manufacturer offers an aluminum version.