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Please, have a seat!
In light of the recently held 11th edition of the Office Exhibition, Kipp took a quick look at the humble but important throne of the work place: The Mighty Office Chair.
May 31, 2012 4:07 by Jyothi M.V.
The 11th “Office Exhibition”– the largest display of office designs and commercial fit-out companies in the Middle East—was held earlier this month at the Dubai World Trade Center. With May being “National Correct Posture Month,” it seems only fitting, excuse the pun, to take a closer look on the importance of the humble office chair We, at Kipp are very particular about the chair we sit in. After all, we have been through a lot on our working thrones- these chairs have seen the best and worst of Kipp. So how important is an office chair in our lives, you ask? Extremely! Anything responsible for supporting your posture 8 to 10 hours a day has to be sturdy and supportive. Think of it as your second home. There are many different styles and sizes of office chairs but if you don’t have the right kind of chair, chances are you will tire easily, your work performance and efficiency may drop and eventually, you might get the sack! (OK, getting fired might be a little extreme, but you get the idea?) But, hey, if you want to avoid this dreadful fate, you can replace your existing chair with these cool ergonomic chairs that are designed to make you sit right and offer maximum support to your back.
History of chairs
The history of office chairs dates back to the Stone Age, when chairs were made to mark the rank of a person in the clan. The first chair had a simple platform with legs, more like a stool, to elevate one person from the rest of the clan that sat on the ground. The most famous ones date back to 1352 B.C. – we are talking, of course, of the beautiful throne in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Even during the Middle Ages, commoners sat on the ground limiting the use of the chairs by the Royals or masters of the household. The Industrial Revolution marked the easy availability of chairs and its prevalence in all households. In the 20th century, more artistic and advanced designs of chairs were developed, inspired by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. Now, chairs serve a purpose different from expressing one’s status, rather, chairs of today are designed for the physiological benefit of the consumers based on the science of ergonomics.
Evolution of modern office chairs
The earliest models of office chairs were inspired by rocking chairs, which were made of simple bentwood and rattan frames. The first office chair, designed by Thomas E Warren in 1849 for the American Chair Company, was a cast-iron and velvet throne. Then chairs, like the Singer sewing chair for sewing machines, came about in the 1920s. By the 80s, with more and more workers using computers, there arose a need for good quality chairs. The answer to this issue came in the form of the Aeron chair which was designed by Bill Stumpf and Donald Chadwick for Herman Miller in 1994. The Aeron Chair soon became the ultimate ergonomic model to be used in offices. Chances are you are sitting on an Aeron or an Aeron-inspired chair right now. As the business of chairs gets competitive, there are more and more advanced ergonomic chairs, being developed; each promising to preserve the worker as well as to increase work productivity.
What to look for in an office chair?
Back rest: The angle and height of the backrest should be adjustable. A good backrest is 19” to 21” inches wide.
The support system of your body – lumbar region – should be well supported; with adequate seating support and good padding. As each person has a natural inward curve, so be sure to look for a chair that has an adjustable lumbar in depth and not just height.
Seat: The seat’s height should be adjustable. Seat height ranging from 16” to 21” suits most people. The depth of the seat should allow for 2-4 inches of space from the back of the knee.
What else to look for in an office chair?
The chair should be at least 1-inch larger than you and have cushioned seating for comfort.
Wheels: A chair that swivels is better than the normal ones as you do not strain your back while reaching different areas.
Armrest: Armrest should be adjustable allowing a person to rest comfortably with his shoulders relaxed.
Even if you find the perfect chair, with all of the above, be sure to avoid prolonged static posture on the chair for more than 20 minutes. Getting up every now and then will help you ways no ergonomic chair can.
Top designers of modern office chairs
Well-known chair designers include:
Marcel Breuger – Furniture designer of Jewish descent. Some of his famous designs include: African chair (in 1921) and Wassily chair (in 1925-1926.)
Charles and Ray Eames – the Eames office chairs in the 1950s.
Konstantin Grcic – A German industrial designer, former assistant to Jasper Morrison and the founder of the design office Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design in Munich in 1991.
Donald Chadwick and Bill Stumpf – the Aeron chair in 1994
Ergonomic office chairs
According to International Ergonomics Association, Ergonomics is “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” To put it in simple words, Ergonomic chairs improve productivity at work (maintaining good posture and support), pose low health and safety risks (avoid long-term injuries) and offer maximum comfort to the user. Some of the cutting-edge ergonomic office chairs are designed to alleviate chronic back pain and improve posture by offsetting some of the weight from the upper thighs to the calves.
Price range of office chairs
Going ergonomic isn't necessarily economic. Office chairs at BAFCO in Dubai start at Dh800. A simple ergonomic chair can cost you Dh1,350 and the more advanced ones can be anywhere from Dh2,000 to Dh4,000.
If you think Dh 4,000 is pricey for a chair, Kipp wonders what you will say about the Aresline Xten which costs a cool $1.5 million (Dh5.51 million). This chair is only available in the UAE and wasmade by Italian car maker Pininfarina, which usually designs Ferraris and Cadillacs.
The award for the second most expensive chair goes to the award-winning designer and architect Hadi Teherani of Germany,who designed a $65,000 (Dh238,000) office chair which is covered in rare leather, oh and silver and gold plating.
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