Which office interior item “eats up” almost half of the entire furniture budget for a new office? A work chair. And it’s also a suitable excuse for mass manipulation and shamanism: “Here’s a synchro-spectrum-super-mechanism, so 1099 euros is the best price for it…”
Jens Kapelmann, head of sales at Dauphin, one of Germany’s largest chair manufacturers, gave us advice on how to understand a million chairs and a billion options, how to identify a good working chair and, most importantly, how to choose the most worthy option for minimal money.
A few details:
What is the load capacity of the chair, what is the maximum weight it can withstand.
This is important because if you have large employees, a normal model may not be able to withstand the load: On average, it is designed for 120 kilos of live weight. For such heroes it is better to choose chairs with a limit of 150, or even 250 kilos. In addition, a person will not sit still, he will sit, swing and move along the table, and in motion the load increases.
What is the support made of
Most supports are made of plastic or metal. But if the load is high, the crosshead must be made of metal, which will definitely withstand heavy weight. The wheels in the support have to be selected depending on the floor covering: plastic ones will scratch the hard surface like laminate and scroll a bit; they are suitable for carpeting or linoleum. For hard flooring there are rubber wheels with pads.
There are two basic types: leather (natural or eco) or textiles (again, natural or high strength synthetic). There can also be combined options. In any case, choose those that are easier to clean, to which the dust does not stick, they are less branded (there are fabrics that repel dirt, for example). Even a good upholstery lets air in, and it’s not hot in summer in this chair.
The algorithm is as follows (all questions are arranged by importance, in descending order):
- Is there any synchromechanism in the chair? This is when the seat and backrest synchronously and automatically repeat the movements of the sitting person: forward, backward, sideways. Thus, without losing contact between the spine and the backrest of the chair, a person is in active motion, the spine is relaxed, there is no extra tension on the muscles. That’s the main thing. Without syncromechanism, a chair is not a chair, but a stool with a backrest.
- Is there an adjustment of the back resistance? Each person has a different weight, so the different forces we apply to the backrest of the chair should be compensated by its resistance. Otherwise fragile little girls will sit like soldiers, unable to fight the backrest. And the big men are eternally in a relaxed, semi-lying position, which is not well perceived by their superiors. Well, when you find the balance: the back should be relatively easy to deflect – but not so much as to “fly away. Adjustment can be mechanical or automatic.
- Adjustment of the seat depth. It exactly has to be. Ergonomically, there should be a distance from the edge of the seat to the inner knee bend from the width of your palm. If it’s smaller, you “slide” out of the chair. If it is bigger, you sink into it, forcing your leg muscles to strain too much.
- Is there a negative angle of inclination of the seat. And, at the same time, the backrest, less than 90 degrees – is when the backrest after the sitting, as if descends to the table. Negative tilt of the seat is necessary to get rid of excess pressure on the inner thigh, which squeezes blood flow in this place and the muscles do not get proper nutrition and oxygen. This happens when you have to work for a long time in the position tilted to the table (write with a pen, look at the data on the monitor). Require a negative tilt!
- And where are my armrests? When you want to save money, the first thing you get rid of in a chair is armrests. And that’s a mistake. Armrests are placed in the same level with the tabletop, so the wrist, forearm and hand on the keyboard (or with a handle) is always on the same level. The arm (including the shoulders) is always relaxed. And it’s beautiful. There are no armrests – and all your muscles do all day at work is support your arms, causing shoulders to rise higher and higher, resulting in a slouch and increased tension in the shoulder belt area. In armrests it is important to be able to adjust the height and width of the armrests. All 3D and other mechanisms – from the evil one.
- Is the height of the backrest adjustable? Specifically the height of the lumbar support. Okay, if so. The lumbar support provides the tightest contact between the back rest and the point of the greatest curvature of the spine. It is bad when the lumbar support rests on the buttocks or almost on the blades. The tighter the contact, the more relaxed the sitting posture. But, actually, the height of the backrest does not play an ergonomic role. It is purely a symbol of the status and importance of the sitting person, nothing more.
A few comments:
- The mesh backrest is as ergonomic as the normal cloth upholstered backrest. The mesh is more comfortable in summer time – it lets in air well, it is ventilated.
- The headrest is a completely empty device. It has no ergonomic role. The headrest is necessary to show the status of the sitting person, to emphasize his high position.
- The plastic base of the chair is not inferior to the metal one in its characteristics. Modern plastic in the chairs is special, high-strength. Calmly serves 10 years or more, not particularly exposed to any serious damage.
- When choosing a working chair it would be good to pay attention to the fabric with which it is upholstered. The main characteristic of the fabric – the index of its erasability, wear resistance. It is expressed in martindale. For an office chair, this index must be at least 80,000.
- It’s worth clarifying the type of wheel. They are available for hard floors (with soft felt attachments so as not to damage the floor) and, conversely, for soft floors (with plastic attachments so as to slide better on the carpet).
- The normal warranty for a work chair is 5 years. If you give less, it’s a reason to think.
- This work chair is not cheaper than 400 euros (the price in Russia, taking into account customs duties, delivery). If you need to save money: choose a cheaper fabric, plastic base of the chair, mechanical, not automatic adjustment, the backrest is lower. You can’t save money on mechanisms and armrests. Then it makes more sense to go to IKEA and buy a nice, cute stool. It’s the same result, and it’s also very cheap.