Are Office Chairs Becoming Too Complicated?

It seems to me that a trend has developed in the office seating market for making chairs overly sophisticated just for the sake of it.

I suppose some of this goes back the mid 1990’s with the launch of the Aeron chair by Herman Miller. The Aeron was such a radical change in conventional Office Chair design, many manufacturers somehow felt the need to add gizmos to their office seating ranges, so they could call them ergonomic office chairs.

The trend continues and nowadays I frequently see operator, task and executive chairs with a multitude of different levers, buttons, air bags etc that often just serve to confuse the hapless chair user.

The average office worker just wants a chair that is first and foremost comfortable and also simple to adjust to their own seating requirements.

So, let’s consider what functions your Office Chair needs to ensure you are comfortably seated at your office desk.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Seat height adjustment
  • Seat depth adjustment
  • Arm height adjustment
  • Tension adjustment to suit your weight and build

There really shouldn’t be any need for any further adjustments on your office seat, unless you have a specific disability or injury that requires specialist seating requirements.

So, when next you consider a new Office Chair I suggest you steer clear of those chairs with half a dozen levers that look like you have to select a gear to get it to do what you want.

Instead, look for a well-engineered chair, with simple seat and back adjustments and adjustable arms, if you decide you would like a task chair fitted with arms. I normally recommend arms, however it’s an individual choice and I know quite a few intensive keyboard users prefer a typist’s chair without arms.

Stick to simple chair design you’ll be glad you did.

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The Aeron Chair – A Modern Masterpiece

This week I thought I would take a look at the Aeron chair in part as a tribute to Bill Stumpf, its co-designer who died recently.

Together with Don Chadwick he created the Aeron chair for Herman Miller in 1994 and when it was released it was quite unlike any other office chair on the market.

In fact such was the impact of its design that it was included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art before it was launched into the office furniture market.Aeron Chair

Apart from its revolutionary open mesh pellicle seat and back which allows air to circulate more freely around the user’s body it also included anther major surpise.

The chair comes in 3 different sizes – small, medium and large to suit the users differing sizes and weight. Typically, Office Chairs are mostly supplied in one size and the user adjusts them to suit their requirements. If they have problems then they have to consider an alternative office seat.

The Aeron chair has always been a high cost item and to some extent this has worked to its advantage, giving it an air of exclusivity and desirability. When the heady days of the dotcom boom were upon us, it was frequently the must have accessory for Internet start ups of the late 1990’s as they spent the megabucks so freely provided to them.

Not surprisingly, as the Aeron has proved so successful it has spawned loads of look -alike products. Few if any, however, match the quality and function of this modern masterpiece. Click the link for more details on the Aeron chair.

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Robin Day – Furniture & Chair Designer

Robin Day must surely be amongst Britain’s most famous post war furniture and chair designers.

He trained at the Royal College of Art just prior to the second world war, having specialised in furniture and interior design.

He began a long connection in 1950 with the British furniture manufacturer Hille, who were keen to progress from the traditional furniture they had produced up until then. Robin Day designed a range of simple chairs, desks tables and storage for them.

As materials and labour were not abundant at this time his designs concentrated on low cost furniture with a minimum number of components. He was always more interested in the function of his furniture rather than making some striking design statement.

The relationship with Hille continued and in 1963 he designed his most famous product, the polypropylene chair for them. This emphasised his commitment to the design of inexpensive furniture that could be readily mass produced.

The polypropylene chair was a huge success combining the qualities of strength, light weight, durability and functionality. The polypropylene chair has gone on to be made by the million, not counting the huge number of imitations that have sprung up since. None however seem to match the design ethics of Day’s original.

Polypropylene school and outdoor chairs followed in the 1970’s.

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