Why Are Professional Office Chairs So Expensive? | ARTiculations
If you’ve ever looked into buying an office chair and have say looked up some options online – you’ll find that it’s possible to buy one for about $50. There are also ones for between a hundred to a thousand.
And there are ones for over a thousand dollars. You may think to yourself- aren’t they all just things we put our butts on? What’s with the big price range? And what kind of crazy person would spend over a thousand dollars on a chair? Well let me tell you a story.
The first chair I ever bought for myself was a chair from I think Walmart for like $39.99. After about 18 months of use, an arm had broken off, the adjustable seat had gotten stuck, the vinyl had ripped in a bunch of places and the seat cushion was as flat as pancake.
In fact, this chair wasn’t even frequently used – I maybe sat in it for about 1-2 hours a day on average. A good, durable office chair should last about 10-15 years while being used continuously for an average of a 40 hour work week.
A cheap chair may cost you less initially, but if you had to replace it every year or two It may end up costing you more in the end. And that’s not even mentioning that cheaper chairs are often very uncomfortable and not ergonomically designed.
This is not to say that every single person needs to spend a thousand dollars on a chair. For light residential use, you could probably find a good quality chair for that purpose for a few hundred dollars.
But if you’re looking to buy a chair for business use, or you work from home and you do spend about 40 hours a week sitting it in – you probably want to look into spending a little bit more to get a good quality chair for the long term.
Designing a quality commercial office chair often takes years and cost a lot of money to implement. It involves a lot of research and development, testing of materials, concepts iterations, and involve the work and input of many scientists, engineers, designers, technologists and even healthcare professionals.
For instance – the Steelcase leap chair took four years to develop, cost 35 million dollars, and involved 11 academic studies. But why do furniture manufacturers bother with doing all of those things? Well one, because it takes a lot of work to develop something that’s strong and durable.
Most commercial manufactures will put their chair designs through vigorous testing methods for function and durability. An example of this is the ISO 21015 test for office work chairs. This test would determine the stability, strength and durability of a chair by applying various standardized simulations of functional use as well as expected misuse.
Number two, most high quality chairs are extensively ergonomically designed, since most of us expect to sit in them for up to 40 hours a week. Sitting for a long period of time in an uncomfortable seat, a poorly supported cushion, or a strained position – could lead to severe health conditions.
Thus a chair should not only be comfortable, but also adjustable. So most professional office chairs are designed with mechanisms that allow a user to easily adjust seat height, back angles, seat depth, chair tilt, arm location, chair width, tension, and sometimes even the locations of lumbar support – allowing the chair to adapt to your body type, work conditions and personal preference.
Many commercial office chairs are also customizable. At a residential furniture store you generally have a limited choice of design and fabric options, because manufactures can keep costs low by manufacturing a few standardized products in mass quantity.
But commercial customers usually require a wider selection of options, so commercial suppliers generally have a higher per-item cost. A commercial chair supplier usually allows you to choose from a greater selection of designs, finishes, and fabric options.
You can even bring in your own fabric, or have the option of printing a custom graphic or pattern onto the fabric. Many commercial businesses want to be able to reflect their brand colour or image in the design of their offices, especially if it’s for a customer facing environment.
But if you’re just a person who’s looking for a simple functional chair for your home office – you most likely don’t need all of that. But the option is there if you have a very specific design in mind.
Ultimately – a great chair, like all great designs, seamlessly ties together elegant form, innovative technology and functional excellence. The Aeron chair, a Herman Miller product that was designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick In 1994 – is actually a part of the collection in the Museum of Modern Art.
An interesting and innovative part of their design is that its seat as well as back are actually not built out of traditional upholstery. It’s made out of an intricate network of polyester mesh that’s stretched over an aluminum frame.
This make it light and flexible yet durable, resilient, stain proof, splash proof and its open mesh helps to keep your butt airy and cool. So if you’re looking to buy a chair – whether you’re looking for a classic work of of art that’s worth of a museum, or you’re just looking for a simple functional chair – hopefully this gives you a little bit of an idea into what to consider and what to look for.
Often I like to talk about how “everything in this world is designed” – from the concrete curbs on the side the road, to toilet partitions in a public bathroom, to the plastic trims on the edges of a chair.
Most people don’t even realize, or take for granted just how much work and thought has gone into designing some of the most ubiquitous things in the world. So I’d love to hear from you guys. What are some of your curious questions about the design world, or just what are some of your questions about the everyday objects around you.
Feel free to leave it in the comments below, or suggest it to me via any of my social media accounts. Thanks for watching and happy sitting! Subtitles by the Amara.org community