Task Master: The 12 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs
Ergonomics play a huge role in today’s workplace, and while we like to think of elevating a space as being the ‘green’ factor to an office— there are so many aspects to factor in that sometimes you can really only change one thing at a time. If there’s a single most important thing that can be changed for those of us who spend our 8 hour workday glued to our task chairs, it’s got to be— you guessed it, swapping out that old rickety Ikea chair for something with a little more substance.
Now, there are so many office chairs out there with their own claim to fame, simply throwing out generic words and phrases without actually having backing to their outlandish pleas. There’s plenty of evidence out there that shows the battle of cardiovascular disease, heart disease and circulatory problems— even back issues; all from being stuck sitting day in and day out. While it’s likely that you may not want to shell out $600, $800 or upwards of $1,000 on a chair, it’s probably safe to assume that those prices are a drop in the bucket when it comes to improving your health (especially if you are in a chair 8+ hours a day). Plus, why shell out $200 a year on a chair that’s just going to fall apart when you can buy one that comes with a 12-year warranty instead?
While an ergonomically sound chair may make a huge difference in your daily life, it’s still optimal to take movement breaks throughout the day. But we know that it’s always easier said than done. With that, we’ve rounded up what we have seen to be the creme de la creme of task chairs. With award winning designs, performance based research and technology based improvements; all of these are designed around the premise of healthier sitting habits. While the aesthetics are more of a personal choice, all of these would look great in just about any space. Below are our picks for the 12 best ergonomic office chairs for your workspace.
1.Herman Miller Aeron Chair
The Cult Classic: Any list about ergonomics and office chairs has to pay ode to the original that started it all. Designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick for Herman Miller, this chair is the ultimate in ergonomics and was the first one of its kind to ditch the foam based cushions and show a woven seat and back. Art, architecture, design— even TV and movie buffs will recognize this chair’s presence in an infinite number of spaces, sets and even your friends’ home and work places.
In the design to this chair, you won’t find a single straight line— it is based on the biomorphic principles of the human body and was created to be a standout amongst its class. Keeping the chair as a non-intrusive part of any environment, the pellicle covering allows a level of moisture wicking, air flow and a level of transparency that gives a lighter appeal.
The Aeron chair comes in three easy to remember sizes (ranging from smallest to largest): A, B, and C. Studies were done cross country in the developmental stages to design and anthropometrics based on the height and weight of users typically helps to determine what size Aeron will be the best fit. Each size was strategically created with the end user in mind to give the most comfortable and adjustable seating experience possible. Pair that with the correct seating adjustments (shown here) and you’ve got a match made in heaven. [Purchase: $713]
2. Humanscale Freedom with Headrest
Executive Styling: If you’re not into all of the futuristic looking chairs and not really excited about the tufted leather executive level seats that come with no ergonomic support— the Freedom chair might be the perfect in between. Its high back and head rest design paired with the huge array of textiles and finishes to really personalize the entire experience makes this a great choice for a home office or a high end executive suite.
Designed by Niels Diffrient, the Freedom chair has been designed to fit 95% of the population. Only 6 controls are on this chair to help with a minimal level of adjustability for maximum comfort. The cushion based design offers up strategic and increased placement of contact areas to minimize pressure points and even out weight distribution while sitting, and the modularity of the cushions allows for easy replacement when worn, stained or simply wanting a different look.
There’s a great combination of responsive controls and independent positioning for the perfect fit based on your body type and what your body feels throughout the day. Clean lines and an architectural look make this the easy (but higher end) option on our list. [Purchase: $999]
3. Herman Miller Embody Chair
Best Health Positive Chair: While the general consensus is that ‘sitting is bad,’ Herman Miller broke that notion with the first health-positive design in seating with the Embody chair. Designed by Bill Stumpf (the original Aeron chair designer) and Jeff Weber, the goal of this seat was to support the circulatory system and make sitting a little bit more bearable on your health while connecting us better to the technology we interact with for hours and hours on end.
Physicians and PhDs all had their hand and two pennies in creating the specifications and studies that ultimately became the Embody. The end result was an exposed exoskeleton that mimics the human spine. The back is instinctive— it moves when you move throughout the day to keep your spine healthy and aligned in a position that keeps the lower back supported all without adjustment.
The Embody isn’t all form and function, though. The Embody has won plenty of notable awards— from ‘People’s Choice’ to ‘Best of Tech’ and a prestigious Silver award from NeoCon (North America’s largest design expo for commercial interiors). While we understand that the aesthetic may not appeal to everyone, we dare you to not judge this book by its cover. [Purchase: $1,209]
4. Muvman Stool
Sit-to-Stand Range: Though this next choice is more of a stool than a chair, it’s a great option if you are someone who doesn’t particularly sit in one location for an extended period of time. Whether you’re working in a laboratory, factory or as a sales person who’s just touching down at the office— the Muvman has a wide range of height adjustments and is ridiculously easy to use.
Made by Aeris, the Muvman stool offers up the style of ‘active sitting’ for those who have the opportunity to go from sitting to standing at their workspace with the flick of a switch. While sitting has been labeled as ‘bad’ for you, standing all day can be especially hard on your feet and joints when there aren’t any change ups hour after hour. Muvman’s patented ‘muvzone’ automatically adapts the tilt angle to the user’s posture and natural movement.
Muvman’s seat is a bit different than most stool designs, showcasing a more arched design and a flexible front edge to relieve common pressure points and promote circulation. The design of the stool is ergonomic in itself, boasting a sleek carry handle at the back for an easy pick up and relocation to wherever your work may take you. [Purchase: $599]
5. Herman Miller Mirra 2
The Re-Up: When Herman Miller’s original Mirra chair was released, it wasn’t but ten years and more than 1.5 million chairs sold that Studio 7.5 of Berlin decided to re-evaluate the first design to see if improvements couldn’t be made for the future. The end result of this study is the more sleek, lighter and presumably more ergonomic Mirra 2 that allows the user to feel empowered and productive in any environment.
With more movement and multi-tasking happening throughout any given day, the Mirra 2 had to be more responsive and adaptive without the user giving any thought to what controls on the chair need to be fiddled with to get everything set just right. Similar to its predecessor, the butterfly back on this chair originally came with an upholstered cover, but the TriFlex polymer back option is still around for that original open look and even proves to be more flexible than ever. The lumbar support on the 2 is a separate unit (as opposed to the original which was attached to the ‘spine’ of the chair) and offers up a more sturdy, extra level of lower back adjustments. While the arm adjustments are now more free moving and perhaps more intrusive than the original, it was clearly felt that the extra buttons and components were unnecessary to give this chair its more minimal look and feel.
The design of this chair uses less material than before which is turn better to the earth, while already being more supportive to our bodies. And if you try to pick up a Mirra and then lift a Mirra 2? A significant weight reduction clearly makes this lean visual profile stand up to its name and design direction for the next decade. [Purchase: $919]
6. Steelcase Gesture
Posture Based Seating: Interacting with technology is just a part of today’s world that we live in. Luckily, with the improvement of technology on both ends of the spectrum there are chairs such as the Gesture that help improve the way we are working and interacting with our tablets, smart phones and other media heavy devices.
Similar to Herman Miller’s Embody, the Gesture’s function has been based off of research of thousands of people observed in their daily seating positions. In the end, Steelcase’s design team developed a list of 9 common modes of work and seating to support it. From working on multiple devices to leaning back, hunching over and curling up– this chair’s flexible back and ease of adjustment helps you do it all comfortably.
Unlike most of the chairs on our list, the arms of the Gesture are ultra-ergonomic and able to move like a human arm to support any mode of work. The entire seat is flexible to adjust to someone who perches on the edge or leans back entirely, something that most seats don’t support. [Purchase: $1,089]
7. Knoll Remix
The Perfect Blend: Knoll’s Remix chair is one of sleek sensibilities and modern technology. If you’re moving toward a more ergonomic seat but don’t want some of the outrageous looks of the innovative chairs out there, this may be a happy medium as far as looks go. On the functionality scale the Remix offers up firm, resilient lumbar support and a tilt control that has three points for a more customized seating angle. The Remix’s subtle yet effective design won the NeoCon Gold award for ergonomics in 2014, showcasing the best of ergonomics in a streamlined package.
The overall look of this task chair is unassumingly simple from the front, but the back’s designation showcases a flexnet support system that’s available in an array of neutrals or a pop of yellow. The seat and back are offered in a sophisticated wool-looking textured fabric to really help improve the look and feel of your workspace. [Purchase]
8. Humanscale Saddle Seat
Go Backless: Humanscale’s Saddle Seat is one of the most praised work stools around, and for good reason. The triangular shape of the seat on this mobile stool is wide enough at all points to accommodate a vast array of sitting styles. The Saddle’s main mode of sitting is geared toward sitting– you guessed it– in a saddle position to open up the hips and put less pressure on the spine.
Though a stool wouldn’t be our recommended method of sitting for an all day user, this stool is great for a temporary jump or touchdown space in an office, at a kiosk in a retail space or even a doctor’s office. And even if you only have this stool as a back-up, it still makes for a great ottoman for when it’s not in use as the primary seat.
And if you’re looking for something that’s a little less wide in the seat region, there’s also a “Pony” version available. This version of its Saddle counterpart is a more compact seat design inspired by its predecessor in the Humanscale Freedom line. [Purchase: $309]
9. Allsteel Mimeo
Low Maintenance: Winning the Silver award for ergonomic task seating at 2014’s NeoCon, Mimeo was the runner-up to the Gesture chair with a somewhat similar look and feel. Allsteel’s latest design in the task chair category is a lighter version than what we’ve seen from the brand previously, showcasing a 3D knit and intelliform back that supports the user fully with the least amount of adjustments. Not only does it fit in easily for any mode of work, but it fits any size and shape of user as well.
This lightweight design of this chair allows an easy transition of the seat from the conference room to a collaborative space and then back to the desk for a very versatile, complimentary seat to any interior. Bruce Fifield of Milan-based StudioFifield worked with Allsteel to design this chair with its intuitive support, flex-wings and enveloping shape with a weight activated recline to ensure a well-rounded fit for every user. [Purchase]
10. Haworth Zody
Science Based Design: While wellness is typically a word associated with day spas and massages, Not only does Haworth’s Zody chair look great in an executive level setting (especially when you upgrade the finishes), but it is the only chair to have been endorsed by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Highly regarded for its passive pelvic support and asymmetric lumbar support.
The independent lumbar support is one of the main reasons for endorsement, giving the user the ability to adjust lumbar for both the right and left sides of the back separately. This is something that’s not regularly seen on a chair, and showed a superior level of comfort when tested among users. The passive pelvic support is a simple pad to help maintain the natural “S” curvature at the small of the back. In addition to the favorited lumbar support you’ve still got all of your standard adjustments including tilt, tension, arm rests and seat depth. Oh, and did we mention there’s an optional headrest addition for those who like to sit in the reclined position, too? [Purchase]
11. BioFit MVMT
One to Watch: 2014’s NeoCon winner of ‘Best Innovation’ in the ergonomic task seating category is certainly one to watch for an upcoming favorite. This chair has been designed not only with a wide array of ergonomics in mind, but with a vast application of settings as well. Specifically created with workplaces such as clean rooms, static control rooms and lab settings– this chair is one of the few created for these uses with a true sense of ergonomics.
Another well designed product by Bruce Fifield of Milan’s Studio Fifield, the MVMT chair offers three series of this chair, each with 3 models for a total of 9 different options for a truly customized seat. Weight activated controls allow for the simple adjustment of tension, just based on simply sitting down. Not to be left in the dust by other companies, BioFit is one of the leading companies to manufacture LEED compliant seating and other office furniture. [Purchase]
12. Herman Miller Sayl Chair
Design + Performance: Dynamic Swiss designer Yves Béhar has been at the forefront of innovative makes for his own company, designed Jawbone wearable technology and of course the last– but not least ergonomic task chair on our list. Herman Miller’s Sayl chair is one of the most ergonomic for a reasonable price point with a ton of visual interest included.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this chair is the most ergonomic, that being the 3D intelligent suspension back. The framless ‘sail’ inspired design offers the Y-Tower as the anchoring mechanism where the supportive, open back attaches to; similar to that of a bridge. The hinged connection points allow for flexing and support with every movement for a full range of motion available to the user.
Fewer materials were used in the making of this chair without sacrificing ergonomics. With the Sayl you get the best of all worlds: less environmental impact, lower cost, great ergonomics and inventive design with great finish options. What’s better than that? [Purchase: $459]