You spend hours at a time at your desk, so hopefully you’re sitting in a comfortable chair. If not, it might be time for an upgrade. This week, we wanted to know which office chairs you thought were the best of breed, either because they offer great value, great comfort, or great ergonomics. Here are the top five, based on your nominations.
Probably one of the most famous office chairs in the world, the Aeron chair set a new standard for ergonomics and comfort when it was released. It also set a new bar for price: new models retail for over $1200, although they can usually be found in the $6-800 range, cheaper if you buy used from individuals or office supply stores. The Aeron’s design is so popular that companies around the world order them by the hundreds, and the Aeron has a permanent installment at the Meseum of Modern Art in New York. Even though it looks sharp and is extremely comfortable, it was initially designed in 1994, and recent studies that point out the dangers of sitting for eight hours at a time also note that the Aeron may not be as ergonomic as we’d hoped over long sitting sessions. Still, it has a huge fan base, is comfortable, adapts to virtually anyone who sits in it, gives up foam and padding for woven mesh, and is highly customizable.
The Embody, Herman Miller’s next generation office chair, was designed by one of the original designers of the Aeron. It takes a more modern approach, and hones in on ergonomics and full-back support. Any complaints about the Aeron’s ergonomics were largely addressed in the Embody, as it’s back can be independently adjusted and moved separately from the base and arms of the chair. It’s still a pricey model, running retail between $1000 and $1500 depending on the finish, color, and fabric you choose, but it’s easily one of the most comfortable chairs you’ll ever sit in. The back conforms to your shape using what Herman Miller calls “Pixelated Mesh,” with multiple points of flexibility all along the length of the chair back. Some people complain the Embody has subpar lumbar support due to its spine-like back, and its controls and settings are a bit more complicated than the Aeron, but—full disclosure—as someone who owns one, it’s the best chair I’ve ever owned.
The Steelcase Leap earned praise from many of you for being more affordable than some other options, its sturdy, long-lasting construction, and its incredible customization options. The Leap is a bit more of a task chair than some others, but it’s exceptionally comfortable, and the design makes sure your whole back is supported, even in the non-high-back models. It was designed with ergonomics in mind, and a special breathable foam padding that airs itself out through special slots on the back and bottom of the chair so it doesn’t get too hot during long work sessions. Rather than conform to you, Steelcase designers gave you individual control over everything from the arm height to the seat depth, so the Leap at your desk really is just for you. They retail for close to $1100, but they can easily be found in the $7-900 range new, even cheaper used. I was lucky enough to sit in a Leap every day at my last job, and it’s just as sturdy and customizable as the marketing promos say, and comfortable over long periods, too.
The Raynor Ergohuman series was designed primarily for people who sit in their chairs for long periods of time working long hours. The design may not win any artsy awards, but its customizable components, add-ons, and independent control over the seat height, arm height, headrest, and rocker tension are impressive. Many of you praised the breathable mesh and leather upholstery, high back, and comfortable headrest. The Ergohuman also features a slightly wider seat pan than most other chairs, perfect for…wider butts, as it were. The series isn’t just for the wider among us though—it’s ideal for taller folks who want decent back support as well. Raynor just unveiled the Ergohuman v2, which offers a number of improvements in design, ergonomics, and weight capacity. The v1 will run you between $6-700, and the v2 between $7-800 retail.
The $199 IKEA Markus is a high-backed chair that comes in a variety of colors and your choice of leather or padded fabric, with a mesh back for breathability. Compared to some of the others here, the Markus is lacking in features and customizability, but if you sit in one for a while, you’ll find it remarkably comfortable (I was thinking about getting one myself before I got my Embody.) It is height adjustable and can tilt and lock, but don’t expect to independently adjust the armrest width or height, or change the seat depth. The curved design and the mesh back to support your back, however, and the seat pan isn’t really deep enough for you to slouch or sit improperly, so it does enforce good posture. If you’re on a budget but want a quality desk chair, it’s a great bang-for-your-buck office chair