Office Chairs: Your Advice Needed

As the new office nears completion there's one final thing I need want to add to it -- a new chair.

The chair I'm sat on at the moment, which you can see in this shot, is five years old. As well as being tatty round the edges it has a wheel missing, which means I take a jolt backwards every now and then. It's a nice wake up call sometimes but I could live without. That and the fact I fancy treating myself to a new one.

Can any of you recommend a chair? Or is it much too personal a choice?

As far as I know I don't have any special needs of a chair and don't suffer with my back. All I really want is something that looks the part, is comfy to sit on and moves about easy enough (probably in that order of importance).

When Mike "Notestips" Golding and I worked together the company we worked for moved us to new offices where every desk had an Aeron chair that cost about a grand a piece. So expensive that they sent a man to make his way round every desk and make sure you were comfortable and sat properly. Shortly after the move they had to make a load of budget cuts and my contract wasn't renewed.

My budget doesn't quite stretch to an Aeron but could probably stretch to a couple of (maybe even three) hundred pounds if I thought I was getting a decent chair that would last.

Anybody have any advice? Wherever I look there seems to be an overwhelming choice on offer. Without being able to actually go and sit on them all I'm at a loss as to which is the best and would have to resort to choosing a chair based on looks alone.


    • avatar
    • Dan
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 04:24 AM

    How about a second hand Aeron chair? I am sure there must be loads of startups who have started bought Aeron chairs with the startup cash and used office furniture dealers have bought them up.

    • avatar
    • Stuart
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 04:55 AM

    My initial recommendation would have been the Aeron - but as you say they can be pricey (between 500-1000 GBP depending on spec).

    My only advice would be to visit a store and sit in as many as you can, check all the height, tilt adjustabilty etc.

    Remember we spend upwards of 8 hrs a day in these chairs and I know from personal experience that poor sitting posture will lead to issues later.

    You may not be suffering from back problems now but spending a little bit extra now may save you a lot of money on osteopath/chirapractors in the future.

    • avatar
    • Stuart
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 04:57 AM

    Just to add - you can pick up 2nd hand/reconditioned Aerons for nearly half price:



    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 05:06 AM

    Thanks guys. I'll have to think about the Aeron as a choice. I'm normally fussy about what I will/won't buys second hand. Call me mental but I get a bit icky thinking about some random person having sat farting in it all day before I own it. I guess a re-furbed model means it's thoroughly cleaned?

    Are the Aerons really that good though? It's long time since I sat in the one I mentioned but I don't really remember any massive wow factor to it.


    • avatar
    • Stuart
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 05:25 AM

    Well - second hand fart - tee hee - I guess you get that every time you sit in an office chair at any client site/meeting room.

    I remember talking to a friend who was refurbishing their bathroom and suggested buying a second hand suite to keep costs down - toilet, bath, sink etc. They said 'ugh second hand toilet' until I pointed out that they had been using a second hand toilet from the moment they moved into their victorian house 6 years ago.

    As for the Aeron - I personally think its money well spent.

  1. I got a Aeron for over 15 years now, and it's still as good as it was back then. Just love it.

    It's expensive, but if a chair lasts that long, it's worth it !

  2. The Aeron is THAT good. I have bought one at 50% off. Now I know that I should have bought it anyway, even at full price.

    Please note that the Aeron comes in three sizes. You will want the middle one (size B).

  3. I agree with everyone - I bought a second hand Aeron about 3 years ago, specifically because I work from home most of the time and figured my back was more important than saving what ... £100, £200? Stuff that :-)

    I love it. If I move, I'm likely to put mine on eBay, and go and treat myself to a brand new one, as they're so comfortable :-) I can often work 17 hours a day and couldn't choose anything better :-) The mesh facing is extremely supportive but breathes, so if it's warmer weather, it really doesn't matter. I think of any chair you could buy second hand, the best would be Aeron - imagine second hard farts locked in nasty foam? Eeek :-) can't believe I wrote that, yucky yucky!


    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 08:12 AM

    Looks like I need to find a size B second hand Aeron then ;o)

    I agree Mark. Foam does lock them in. It must, as sitting down on a foam chair often seems to unlock farts from earlier on, which have been festering away.

    Having said all this our car is second hand and the seat is made of foam...


    • avatar
    • Philip King
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 08:27 AM

    Just buy the chair you cheapskate!

    Having used a desk that allows you to change the height so that you can stand up and work I can thoroughly recommend one of those as well.

  4. The voice of dissent then, I guess, falls to me. Ahem.

    About 5 years ago, I went with sturdy Aluminum frame, cushiony, black leather unit from Staples (probably some Korean brand) for $150 and aside from a clicky wheel stem (fixed with a bit of paper packed into the hole to take up the slack), it has held up fabulously, is comfortable to sit in for long periods of time, and has enough tilt for me to put my feet up for a strategic nap here and there.

    Chairs are like cars... if made right, no matter how cheap or expensive, they'll last. The reverse is not true - expensive doesn't always mean "lasts" or "made right", as is evidenced by the much maligned and loved Jaguar brand. You could spend loads for the BMW equivalent in a chair, or try to find a reasonably priced Honda equivalent. Your money, your choice. Don't let brand and peer pressure be the two biggest determining factors. :-)

    Commence the barrage of rotting veg.

    • avatar
    • Esther Strom
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 11:02 AM

    I have had Aerons at work for the last 10 years, and personally don't like them that much. I tend to slouch, and there's nothing in the Aeron that prevents that, so I still get backaches.

    I love the balance ball chair I have at home:


    • avatar
    • Rob
    • Tue 29 Apr 2008 11:12 AM

    When the Motorola offices I worked in switched to the Aeron, I was excited. I'd heard much about them had have had back issues.

    A month later I had to switch. It was not confortable for me. The armrest suppors cut into the sides of my legs quite severely. Of course that might be because I'm a beefy 250 lb. (17.9 st.), so that might be a factor.

    So I wouldn't buy anything unless you can sit in it to try it out.

  5. For what its worth.... Herman Miller, the maker of the Aeron Chair is a Notes shop. They're Notes team is top notch. They even gave me a plant tour when i was out there, and yes, their office furniture was all very nice ;).

  6. I use an Aeron chair at work right now and don't particularly like it. I tend to sit with my legs spread (good thing I'm not a woman or a Scotsman) and these chairs curve up at the sides which makes that a bit uncomfortable. I also tend to slouch which means that I could sit on a soft bench and get about the same level of comfort.

  7. I would agree with the Aeron (although, as has already been mentioned, don't buy ANY chair without trying it first--they're NOT one size fits all!), or a Humanscale of some sort: {Link} (you can often find them on eBay for terrific prices--along with the Humanscale keyboard trays which are, bar none, the ULTIMATE in ergonomic joy!)...but I'd also suggest trying a ball.

    Esther suggested a Gaiam ball chair--but in trying to decide whether or not to get one of them for myself (since I couldn't find one to try), I bought a simple exercise ball for $10, and tried it out...and was hooked! I've never sat on anything else that was so very enjoyable--and the price was certainly right! ;)

    The key to sitting on exercise balls is, that they encourage active sitting. Force it, actually. Which means that you're constantly making tiny movements and adjustments as you sit--all of which strengthens your core muscles, and leaves you much less fatigued, after 8 hours at your desk. Plus, when you're bored, you can wiggle your behind around, and wobble comfortably around the floor a bit--and then finish it off with a bit of bouncing. You can even roll back over it, and let your arms hang over your head, while your spine stretches out. It perks you right up. ;) {Link}

    (It is very important to get the right size ball for your height, however, so that your legs are at the correct angle...if you do a bit of searching, some of the places that sell the heavy duty balls will list the correct size for different heights.)

    And a ball is inexepensive enough that you can get a new one, and not worry about second-hand anything. ;)

    (As a final plus, exercise balls conduct sound in a very cool way...so you can use them to make cool, "alien" noises. You can't say THAT about your average chair! :P)

  8. I worked as a notes developer for HM and recived an Aeron chair and I didn't like it near as much as the Herman Miller (SQA) Reaction chairs. I have serveral at home. They are highly adjustable and of high build quality. I'd rather have one of these at the home office.


    I'm not sure if they still sell them, however.

    • avatar
    • Alan Harris
    • Thu 1 May 2008 03:16 AM


    Have I paged to a quiche eaters convention?

    Piffle I say utter, piffle, get down the local dump and see what goodies are being thrown away down there.

    Recycle - Reuse - Result

  9. I have an Aeron chair at work - only discovered that after reading this and then checking the chair! Its comfy and now I know how much they cost I guess I should be grateful!

    I also eat quiche. Not sure if thats relevant, but thought I would mention it anyway.


    • avatar
    • Pawel
    • Sat 3 May 2008 10:56 AM

    Take a look on this one, combines fitness ball healthy effects with office usability {Link} I'm thinking about buying one of those.

  10. Wanna try a real sleeper? Hie thee to thy local IKEA and check out a little number named JOAKIM. It doesn't come with a sackful of prestige, but that's all it's really missing.

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