We all know that the gold standard of office seating is Herman Miller’s Aeron chair. It has the prestige of an ivy league university, style that earned it a spot in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and cache that would make even the likes of Jay-Z jealous. Oh yeah, and it’s pretty comfortable to sit in, too.
For all its glamour and status, Aeron’s reputation has sustained a some blows, since being linked to corporate excess during a recession that’s left millions of Americans out of work isn’t exactly the best PR, but the chair continues to top roundups of favorite office seating.
Of course when it comes to selecting the perfect office chair, style and status shouldn’t be the top priorities. Manny Halpern, a professor of ergonomics at New York University’s School of Occupational & Industrial Orthopedic Medicine told the Wall Street Journal that consumers should evaluate chairs on four main criterion: Chair adjustments, seat comfort, body support and ease of use. The best chairs have a seat that fits the user’s shape, can support their weight in different positions, and has comfortable lumbar and backrest support along with adjustable armrests and backrests.
There’s good news for those of you who are tired of hearing about how great Aeron is: We’ve rounded up three office chairs that are just as cool (or even cooler!) than the Golden Child (Chair?) itself. These picks are both stylish and comfortable, and can fit a variety of budgets.
Knoll Life Chair
In the looks department the Life Chair has a slim but durable silhouette suited for someone who doesn’t want or need their chair to be a statement-making piece of furniture (although it did win the Best of NeoCon Gold Award for Office Seating). It’s sleek, but still packs a big ergonomic punch and is touted for being a snap to adjust and for quickly to accommodating different tasks and postures. If you wear out your seat or want to change the look of the chair, Knoll offers replacement seat and back toppers which can add extra comfort in just seconds. The chair’s Greenguard certified. The aluminum base model is made with 60 percent recycled content and 70 percent of parts are recyclable and the plastic base model is made with 55 percent recycled content and is 58 percent recyclable. It’s also affordable (by fancy office chair standards), starting at just $500.
Herman Miller Embody
Created by one of Aeron’s original designers, Embody is an ergonomic fanatics dream chair. Made with a product called “Pixelated Mesh,” The full-sized seat back conforms to your body and can be adjusted independent of the base and arms. While some complain about the lumbar support and more complicated controls and settings (there seven different knobs, buttons and levers used to create your optimal seating experience), others (including this reviewer on Gizmodo) say it’s the most comfortable chair they’ve ever sat in (and might we add, probably one of the most unique looking). Plus, for those of you who are environmentally conscious, the chair is made from non-toxic and sustainable materials and is 95 percent recyclable. Of course, all that comfort doesn’t come cheap. The list price is $1,799.
This award-winning chair features weight-sensitive recline, synchronously adjustable armrests and a dynamically positioned headrest that allows you to sit comfortably for extended periods without risking long-term injury. The chairs most notable feature is it’s ability to automatically adjust to support whatever position you’re sitting in; the headrest is there when you need it (cradling your neck and head as you recline) and out of the way when you’re sitting up. Reviewers complain about the fact that armrests can’t be adjusted independently and say that reclining can feel awkward. Though it doesn’t earn as many environmental points as Embody, the chair is Greenguard certified and made with 28 percent post-consumer and 18 percent pre-consumer recycled content. While more affordable than other popular task chairs, Freedom is still a bit pricey (the chair retails starting at $895) but Arnold’s has the popular chair in stock for just $325.
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