July 20, 2007

Have A Seat

The vacuum discussion that came out of my post Suck It Up was very insightful and helped me decide to get a Dyson DC17 Animal (which I love). I figured I would try my luck again now that I’m looking for a new office chair. I currently have a pretty basic leather desk chair (as seen here in my old office), but I’m sad to say the years and cats have taken their toll. And it’s always annoyed me that it won’t actually fit under my desk due to the high arm rests.

I’ve tried out Aerons, but I’m lukewarm on them. We have Humanscale Freedom chairs in the Philly office, which were also nice, but I fear the cats might have some different thoughts. Because I know it will get beat up in my home office, I probably won’t look to spend a mint on a new or trendy chair. I’m a simple man, with simple tastes; I would like something that is sturdy and supportive. I’m not opposed to used chairs, but after scouring eBay and craigslist for used Freedoms I realized that I don’t know of many other quality brands of chairs. So, dig deep and recommend, dear reader. What’s your butt fond of these days?

Commentary (55):

1. Chris Ryland says… jul 20, 2007 | 9:41 am

Can’t recommend the Freedoms highly enough.

You can find ‘em used for $300 at used office supply places (there’s one in Springfield, MA that has a bunch).

2. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 20, 2007 | 9:48 am

Chris Ryland: I do indeed like the Freedoms. I wonder if anyone has experience with some of the different fabric options (with a mind toward pets). I fear that in order to get one a bit more cat-resistant, I would probably have to customize a brand new one, which will be costly. Hence the search for potential other options.

3. Ian says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:05 am

Jesy insists on her yoga ball. Apparently it improves your posture and gives you nice boobs. Go for it, Stan.

4. Brian Warren says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:05 am

I have a Raynor Eurotech (I think, it doesn’t say on the bottom). It’s pretty adjustable with lots of levers and angle adjusters (adjustable arm rest height was key for me).

My cat ignores it, though it is fabric. I picked it up after testdriving about 20 different chairs at Office Depot. It was on sale for 100 bucks. I’ve been really happy with it.

5. Jacob Patton says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:23 am

I’ve all but decided to purchase a Steelcase Think chair—having recently sat in one on a showroom floor I was blown away by the luxurious comfyness of the chair and the simple designy look of it.

Sure, they’re pricey, but buy one and your butt will be in good company. BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow is crazy about them, and even Al Gore would give you a nod—the Think is nearly completely recyclable after it’s ruined by the cat.

6. Michael says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:41 am

Steelcase Leap. Bought one last month, enjoyed it from the first minute. Great for my back, 10 years warranty, sturdy and supportive enough for an elephant. (an even if you’re not one, it will do the job nicely) A little pricey but you can get a used one from eBay.

Good luck!

7. Andy says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:50 am

Herman Miller Mirra. Seriously, sooooo much more comfortable than the Aeron, and less expensive too.

8. Jeff Smith says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:58 am

I was in the same situation myself a couple of months ago and ended up buying a fairly cheap Quinton Leather chair. It’s not a super-trendy chair whatsoever, but I’ve found it to be quite comfortable and and it has great back support. It’s also got adjustable arms, which was also important for me as I’m fairly tall, but wanted the arms of the chair to still fit under the desk.

Also, it’s fairly cheap, so there’s no worry about the cats ripping it up.

9. Jason Campbell says… jul 20, 2007 | 10:59 am

I have never liked anything I’ve been given to sit in at work with the exception of an Aeron, so I stand.

I am currently in between home offices but I think of this as a wonderful solution globally.

Best of luck.

10. Kris Hull says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:07 am

I bought a Quinton (A.K.A. The Dank, after some stoner kid in office depot said “duuude, this chair is the dank!”) for my home office a while back and I HATE it. It makes my butt numb. It is the worst office chair I have ever sat in.

I love the Aeron, as well as the Leap chair I have at work, but I am not down with the Mirra. The back is not comfortable to me, and when I sat in it the seat mesh gave enough that I was touching the mechanism underneath. And I am not fat.

11. Garrett Murray says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:22 am

I whole-heartedly recommend a Herman Miller Mirra chair. Make sure you get the fully-loaded one. It’s cheaper than the Aeron and more comfortable.

When I bought mine about 6 months ago, I did endless research (went to many, many stores, sat in many, many chairs) and spoke with tons of people about their chairs. The Mirra came out on top. I sit in this thing for at least 8 hours a day nearly every day and I’m comfortable the whole time.

Additional cool things about Mirra: It’s 96% recyclable and made from 46% recycled materials. It also has a 12 year warranty, which is fantastic.

I bought mine from OfficeDesigns.com in Chicago, and they shipped it 3-day UPS to me for free.

Good luck in your search!

12. May says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:24 am

My most recent addition to my home office is the Junior Chair by Tom Deacon.
Really comfortable, and stylish.

13. Josh Stodola says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:25 am

I don’t understand how you can live your life in fear of what your cats will destroy next. Doesn’t sound like a pleasant lifestyle to me (but thats a biased opinion - I like dogs). I’m curious to know how many of your every-day decisions have a cat factor.

Anyways… I have one of these and it totally owns.

14. Wilson Miner says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:26 am

Just went through the same thing. My desk is in the bedroom, so giant spidery black office chairs aren’t really ideal, but this fluffy white Ikea chair isn’t so much for the sitting in all day.

I was in the middle of trying to justify buying a “real” reproduction of the Eames Aluminum Group chair when I found these knockoff versions for about a tenth of the price. It’s called the “Lider” chair. Amazon has them on sale in white and black for about $200, but I found them in other colors on the webs.

My order is still on its way, but I’ll let you know if there are any disastrous results.

15. Sean O’Brien says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:54 am

I submit another recommendation for the Think chair. I bought one - two and a half years ago “for my girlfriend,” and still find in beautifully simple and supportive. The combination of comfort, quality, attractiveness and recycle-ability will allow this design to endure far longer than most of its competition.

We have a cat, but since I the chair colors to match the cat, we rarely notice the hair. When we do, it comes off without a fight.

16. Jacob Reiff says… jul 20, 2007 | 11:57 am

I used to work in the commercial furniture industry and have tried out a ton of different chairs. My favorite is definitely the Allsteel Sum chair. Most chairs have so many adjustments with a lack of instructions on how to actually adjust it properly—the Sum is all ‘automatic’ adjustment, no levers, etc.

It’s been out for a few years now, perhaps some Allsteel dealers have some floor models they’ll sell at a good price. (It retails new anywhere from $500 to $750 depending on options.)

17. Will says… jul 20, 2007 | 12:18 pm

I’ve had an Aeron for 8 years and I love it. It broke recently, and Herman Miller sent a technician to my house (50 miles from their repair center) to fix it - which involved installing a new part - free of charge.

Yes, Aerons are expensive. But a 12-year warranty on a chair is awesome. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

I’m sure Herman Miller offers similar support on their other products, so I guess this is more an endorsement of HM than of the Aeron (since you’ve said you’re not a fan.)

But they are nice chairs, and I think they grow on you :)

Whatever you get, make sure you love it. I’d be scared to calculate how many hours of my life have been spent sitting in front of a computer. A good chair helps.

18. Tobias says… jul 20, 2007 | 12:36 pm

I love my Steelcase Think chair. It is the first chair that I have been able to sit in for a longer period of time without constantly moving around on the seat (and getting sweaty) — it just adapts nicely to your body.
And as a bonus, a lot of thought has gone into its environmental impact.

19. Jason Santa Maria says… jul 20, 2007 | 1:42 pm

Josh Stodola: Living with cats isn’t bad at all. My cats aren’t even super destructive, but they do like to get their claws into certain things. So, buying a wonderful new leather chair would just turn into something depressing a week later when it’s marred by a few claw holes. I’m actually more of a dog person myself, but I enjoy most any animal, cats included.

To everyone else: Thanks for the great recommendations thus far! I’ve very intrigued by the Steelcase Think chair. I do believe I will find my way out to a sshowroom this week to give it a good ol’ sit.

20. Josh Stodola says… jul 20, 2007 | 3:02 pm

I could probably live with cats if I had to. But they go to the bathroom in the house, and that just doesn’t sit well :)

21. Brian Warren says… jul 20, 2007 | 3:29 pm

@Josh Stodola: Ha ha! That’s great. Do you live with people? Or do they go outside?

22. Greg Benedict says… jul 20, 2007 | 3:43 pm

I’ve bought used Leap chairs for our office. $700+ new is a bit high, but I’ve gotten them lightly used or demo’d in excellent condition from $200-$450.

I picked these because they are so much more comfortable when you are sitting for hours on end than cheap chairs. The build quality is excellent as well.

I’m not a fan of the Aeron. It just feels odd to me.

23. Josh Stodola says… jul 20, 2007 | 4:01 pm

@Brian Warren: Ummm, yeah, see that’s the point. Only humans should go to the bathroom inside. We dont leave our pools of urine and piles of shit there to greet everybody else!

24. Matt Carey says… jul 20, 2007 | 4:01 pm

+1 on the aeron. i bought 4 this year for my studio — all second hand via ebay. the quality is so good it doesn’t matter they are second hand. i used to get a really stiff neck after a full day in my ‘standard’ ikea chair, but never have anything like it with my aeron.

25. Matt Fitzsimmons says… jul 20, 2007 | 4:40 pm

@Josh Stodola: At least most of us don’t leave it…

Anyway, we have some Mirra chairs here, although I’m not fortunate enough to have one in my office.

I really like them if the lumbar support is adjusted correctly, but it’s way too high on all the ones we have set up right now.

The seat is a bit squishier than the Aeron, I think, but it’s not bad.

26. Ben says… jul 20, 2007 | 5:26 pm

Aeron (Series B) all the way. I have one at work and got one for home it was so comfortable. You can get nearly new one off Craigslist for about $500-600. Totally worth it!

27. Elliot Swan says… jul 20, 2007 | 6:11 pm

Go with the La-Z Boy recliner, you won’t find anything better. Perhaps even with a Tiger fabric to match the Mac? Just make sure you can find some Leopard fabric come later this year…

28. Thomas Kern says… jul 20, 2007 | 7:50 pm

try Hag. good and cheap, i love it.

steelcase is good too but if money was not a problem, take a look at Sato. their solution with all the moving parts is seriously the best i have ever seen. had the “honour” to use it for a couple of days but had to return it :)

good luck jason, tough choice :)

29. Lon Campbell says… jul 20, 2007 | 7:59 pm

What Fun! I went through a similar search a couple years ago and the Mirra chair came out on top. It’s handled my abuse quite well, breathes and is supportive. Love it!

All that aside, nothing beats sitting in several different chairs and getting a true feel.

30. miles says… jul 20, 2007 | 8:39 pm

You HAVE to try out the Humanscale Freedom chair before you buy. It’s amazing. The designer, Neils Diffrient literally wrote the book on ergonimics (search Humanscale in Amazon books). Seriously, make a point if sitting in one before you commit to another chair.

31. bearskinrug says… jul 22, 2007 | 7:53 am

Am I too late to weigh in?

I will sell you my current desk chair at a DISCOUNTED PRICE. It’s already broken. I mean… broken-in.

32. Drew McLellan says… jul 22, 2007 | 8:50 am

Our top tip for buying single office chairs is to go to a office wholesale place - the sort that sell 800 desks at a time to fit out big offices. They’ll nearly always have a supply of good quality end-of-line and ex-showroom chairs that are in nearly new condition and that are being sold off cheap.

Both mine and Rachel’s home office chairs came from such a place. Sure, they don’t match, but they’re good quality and were great value.

33. Veerle Pieters says… jul 23, 2007 | 7:44 am

I swear by my Stokke Thatsit Balans and if you love your back you will too :) No seriously this chair is ideal for long hours at your desk. We both have been using it for more then 7 years and never had any sore back or shoulders from sitting wrongly.

34. Brian Delicata says… jul 23, 2007 | 3:49 pm

Did this search, read the reviews a few months ago and settled for the Aeron (fully loaded).

It has been the best thing for my lower back pain.

35. John Santa Maria says… jul 23, 2007 | 6:22 pm

Who knew there was such a science to office chairs? -Not me.
These things are expensive! But I like the Aerons as well (what I currently use at work, comfy)…although, I don’t know what kind of work:sleep ratio you’re attempting to pull off. Good luck! ^ ^

36. Stan Hansen says… jul 23, 2007 | 8:37 pm

Through attrition I have inherited the office Aeron. At first it feels like a cold distant relative, but over time it gets to know you, never getting too close, but always keeping it professional and suiting your needs just so.

37. Stan Hansen says… jul 23, 2007 | 8:37 pm

Through attrition I have inherited the office Aeron. At first it feels like a cold distant relative, but over time it gets to know you, never getting too close, but always keeping it professional and suiting your needs just so.

38. june says… jul 23, 2007 | 10:08 pm

@Josh Stodola: cats can learn to use the toilet too - http://www.citikitty.com/

both my cats have learned, in fact my cat shombay is pictured on this site

as for chairs, I second the yoga ball.

39. Justin Kilcher says… jul 24, 2007 | 4:58 pm

“And it’s always annoyed me that it won’t actually fit under my desk due to the high arm rests.”

That is one of my all time office pet peeves. Not only is that true at my home desk but at my work desk too. Curse you over-elevated arm rests!

40. Stebbins says… jul 25, 2007 | 11:47 am

Simple man with simple tastes? And you spend almost $600 on a vacuum cleaner? God knows how much you will spend on a chair…

The road to poverty is paved with Dyson vacuum cleaners.

41. Nickolas Means says… jul 25, 2007 | 12:28 pm

The Herman Miller Mirra can’t be beat. The Aeron feels like a stadium seat in comparison, and mine’s survived 2 long-distance moves as well as my pair of over-excitable dogs with nary a scratch.

It’s not the cheapest chair out there, but it’s the only thing I’ve found that I can sit comfortably in for long periods (including 14-hour all-night programming binges).

42. niff says… jul 25, 2007 | 6:09 pm

Hey Stan-
I have read some good things about this worknest
nice design in a comfy package!

43. niff says… jul 25, 2007 | 6:14 pm

OH- The arm rests are adjustable-the fabric stretches. It also auto adjusts to a persons weight. Hidden technology- almost “Hogwarts-ish!”

44. Bastiaan Terhorst says… jul 26, 2007 | 5:35 am

IKEA’s Kläppe chair is pretty good, and cheap.

You might have some explaining to do when overzealous designer-friends come over.

45. Josh Stodola says… jul 26, 2007 | 3:36 pm

@ June

That is far more disturbing! You gotta be kidding me…

46. Laura E says… jul 31, 2007 | 8:24 pm

I once convinced myself that buying an uncomfortable (ok, but stylish) wood and metal chair would make me spend a little less time in front of my computer. BOY was I wrong. Ouch. I hated that chair.

47. Adrian G says… aug 2, 2007 | 5:39 am

Saddle up!
Wow, a few days ago someone’s blog was asking about how she should pack for an air trip, and I was starting to worry that none of us can think for ourselves any more. But this is more useful - countless hours spent in spine-bending pain or an ergonomic Valhalla. No-one’s mentioned the ‘Bambach Saddle Seat’, and as I too am in the market for a (hideously expensive it seems, so worth getting right) back-saver, I wondered if anyone can give their experience with one?

48. Ben M says… aug 2, 2007 | 11:50 am

I’ve been trying out the Steelcase Leap and I have to say that I love it. The back support is great and I particularly like the arm rests, which are highly adjustable. They adjust really low so that the chair will fit under your desk (you said that was a problem with you current chair). They are expensive, but it looks like you can pick one up cheaper on eBay. Just make sure that you get the newer v2 model. If you buy a new one, the best option I’ve seen is buying direct at http://store.steelcase.com.

49. Daniel Stout says… aug 4, 2007 | 10:49 pm

At my last job, we had the Allsteel #19 chair, which is comfortably ergonomic, mostly recycled, and suitably expensive. It’s a chair with an exoskeleton.

50. Matt says… aug 15, 2007 | 10:38 am

Had the pleasure of trying one of these out at a client’s office recently and was suitably comfortable for the suration of a long meeting. I will be installing one at my home office when I move in a few months.

51. Kevin Evans says… aug 16, 2007 | 10:57 pm

Hello Jason,

I am suprised no one has mentioned Humanscale’s Liberty chair. I was considering the Mirra or the Aeron till I sat down in the liberty, it’s probably the most comfortable chair ever to me. It’s simplistc design at its best.…less levers/controls (less likely to break) than the Herman Miller but you dont really need it as the lumbar area adjust itself to your body. And it tilts a lot more naturally than the Aeron…goes back further too…sitting back in the Aeron kinda feels like you are going to fall over. The Liberty rolls over the floor better also.

I highly recommend the Liberty! I got the one with the adjustable armrests.


52. Bernardo says… aug 19, 2007 | 4:44 pm

I also bought my own at IKEA. Fair enouth, but here in Netherlands we don’t have the same models, I think.

53. Joseph says… aug 26, 2007 | 6:59 pm

I was all set on a getting a Think! chair, but now I’ve seen this HAG Capisco chair. Decisions are hard. Did you ever pick out a chair?

54. Brett says… aug 27, 2007 | 8:25 pm

I’d highly recommend the Contessa chair by Teknion. Crazy comfy, adjustable, stylish, blah, blah… Better than an Aeron in my opinion, but kinda pricey.

55. Jason Santa Maria says… aug 31, 2007 | 9:50 am

After sitting in nearly every chair listed in the comments above, I managed to score a (practically) brand new Humanscale Freedom chair from craigslist for a very low price. My buttocks are rejoicing.