You get what you pay. In this instance, you are paying to ensure that your butt doesn’t fall in on you like a neutron star.
Many people work from home in the age of COVID. This means that they are experiencing sticker shock when trying to change their home office from their dining room table and chair. What’s the deal about office chairs? Some chairs cost $100, while others can cost you over a thousand. Even those that don’t appear to be stuffed with Chinese newspapers and apple cores will still cost you a few hundred.
We sat down with Patty Johnson, an associate professor at Rhode Island School of Design and graduate program director of furniture designing, and we daydreamed. Then, we got back to work and worked out the rest.
WHAT IS SO DIFFERENT AROUND AN OFFICE CHAIR COMPARED TO ANYOTHER CHAIR?
There are many parts to an office chair, and there are literally more moving parts. Johnson states that ergonomics is the most important thing. This is the primary concern of the office furniture industry. Johnson states that people spend more time sitting in their office chairs than they do on their couches or at the dining room table. It is important to understand how the chair supports the body and relieves pain when people sit for long periods of time. This is why top-tier companies such as Herman Miller, Knoll, and Haworth heavily invest in it.
One of the most difficult aspects of ergonomics research is the fact that different bodies are different. Therefore, the design of an office chair must be adaptable to all body types and all percentiles.
TRUE. Plus, THEY HAVE WHEELS AND SWIVEL!
These were actually the contributions of some of history’s most important people. The swivel chair was invented by Thomas Jefferson, who also wrote the Declaration of Independence from it. Charles Darwin improved the office chair by adding wheels to allow him to move around and inspect specimens better. Notably, Donald Trump gave his name to a line (and completely on-brand!) of office chairs for Staples in 2007.
HOW MUCH ERGONOMICS RESEARCH ACTUALLY GOES INTO CHEAPER CHAIRS
Johnson states that it is something Johnson and his team ponder but it may not be a core principle of their designs. They might choose to make fewer adjustments and use cheaper materials, such as upholstery, hardware, padding, etc.
AND MORE ADDITIONS EQUALLY MORE MONEY?
Yes. It takes a lot of time to perfect all those adjustable bells, whistles. This is a significant sunk expense! These are the costs that companies hope to recover from the premium price tag. Johnson worked recently with Haworth to develop a chair that had been in development for five-years — that’s quite a lot of investment at the front end. They still want to lower the cost of every component, which is a difficult task.
This ALL LOOKS KINDA FAIR IF YOU PUT IT LIKE THIS, BUT HOW COME IKEA ONES SO CHEAP!
Johnson insists that she loves Ikea. However, you will notice that the chairs they make are smaller than theirs. They are not as long, as tall, or as wide. All of these things increase the cost of a chair. Ikea’s business model involves copying other people’s designs and then reducing their dimensions and complexity.
THOUGH, REALLY, HOW MUCH MORE CAN PERFECT A CHAIR! What’s the best thing to do?
Johnson states that there are many reasons why companies continue to go to great lengths to create original chairs.
DO ALL OF THESE NUMBERS HAVE DOLLAR SIGNNS IN FRONT of THEM?
They’re selling chairs. What do you want me tell you? From their perspective, there are many ways to invent and be recognized in the marketplace as innovative. Furniture companies must embrace new technology and push the boundaries in order to be successful, regardless of whether it’s 3D digital knitting or better materials.
WHAT IS THE EXPECTED LIFE FOR A OFFICE CHAIR
You’ve probably seen how quickly office chairs can be destroyed if you’ve ever worked at an office. It seems like every chair that once worked is now a broken, sagging, stained, stained and beat up thing. The best chairs will last for a longer time. This is generally due to the quality and build of the chair.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT A BUILD?
Johnson states that almost everything is more durable and better than the rest: the seams, welding, quality, etc.
WHAT IS SUPPLY AND DEMAND?
It is true that people don’t buy work chairs as frequently as they purchase T-shirts. This is why the cost of these chairs is so low. They can also be up to 50 percent cheaper when they are sold in bulk to companies that specialize in interior design and offices. However, remote workers typically pay the full freight if they only buy one.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OFF CHAIRS?
There are task chairs. They are usually lower-back, can only move up or down and are used for conference rooms and worker bees. There are also desk chairs that have more adjustable features. Executive chairs are traditional leather thrones where CEOs devise ruthless schemes to increase the company’s share value. Gaming chairs are a subset of executive chairs.
Each chair has a different level of features and adjustment, which increases the cost. Johnson claims that there is more R&D involved in a desk chair than in a task chair. Another consideration is quantity. There are more conference and task chairs that are sold to offices than executive or executive chairs.