8 best ergonomic office chairs
We tried the most technologically advanced seats for a home office to keep you pain-free
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If you’re an average Brit, your desk chair could well be one of the most important objects in your life. 81 per cent of us spend between four and nine hours a day seated at our desks. Our choice of chair will impact our comfort, concentration and wellbeing during every minute of that time, whether we’re consciously aware of that or not.
Harvey Kempton, head of key accounts at Flokk, a desk chair specialist, says in order to choose the right chair, you should consider these factors: “Start with how you work. What is your working day like? Do you use computers regularly? Are you a writer, for instance? Do you copy type? It’s not just about the chair; it’s about where your keyboard is, your mouse is, where your paperwork is being supported. The chair needs to make you comfortable in whichever positions you are in through the day, so it’s important to consider those positions before you buy.
Another factor can be health issues, such as sacral nerve problems, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and other physical complaints. The best chair for you will tie in suitability for whatever physical issues you have to manage with how you work."
With all this considered, we've tried and tested a range of chairs to to help you find most comfortable desk companion.
Herman Miller aeron: £1,070, John Lewis & Partners
The original Herman Miller aeron desk chair is currently on show at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. In our view, it thoroughly deserves its place there. From the moment we sat down in the aeron, we knew we were onto a winner. The seat and back are supremely comfortable, pleasantly cool to the touch, and with a slight bit of bounce that gives the chair a great sense of responsiveness.
Leaning back into the aeron, you get a perfectly balanced feel, almost as if you’re floating. Furthermore, it can be adjusted in myriad ways – including tilt, height and range of motion – to find the perfect fit for you. We think the aeron looks its best in this graphite finish, with its smart, reflective hardware and subtly contrasting seat and back. A true work of art.
RH logic 400 ergonomic office chair: £895.99, Amazon
This classic desk chair has set the bar for support and relief since the seventies. It’s super adjustable. The arms can be turned or slid back and forth to find the ideal support for your arms, the back angle can be altered independently of the seat, and there’s even a hand pump enabling the user to set the amount of support given to the lower back.
If you’re looking for a highly adjustable chair to support you through your long, hard shifts, this could be the one. Another advantage of the logic 400 is its robustness. Its metal legs feel strong, stout and made to last, and the seat can easily be unclipped and replaced if damaged.
HÅG sofi mesh: From £595, Posturite
Most desk chairs go up to a seat height of around 520-560mm, depending on the gas stem mechanism used. This one goes right up to 640mm, which is excellent news for taller people, or those who prefer a semi-seated position with a height adjustable desk. Speaking as a taller person (6 ft 3), our tester said this felt fantastically comfortable, and thought it was ideal for desk-based activity.
Finer details of the sofi mesh that stood out included its generous seat depth, simple arm adjustment and the lovely padding on the back. If you’re tall, or if you’re seeking high comfort at a mid-range price, this chair would be our recommendation.
Langley Street olmstead mid-back desk chair: £217.99, Wayfair
For those willing to sacrifice some ergonomic adaptability in exchange for a beautiful looking bargain, Langley Street’s olmstead mid-back desk chair could prove too tempting to pass up. Its walnut veneer, faux leather padding and mid-century-inspired design wouldn’t look out of place in Don Draper’s office.
What you don’t get with this chair is the personalised comfort attainable through chairs like the RH logic 400 and the Herman Miller aeron. Yes, the chair swivels, and yes, you can adjust the height – but that’s it. Still, the olmstead is comfy to sit on, and could be well suited to aesthetes who spend a moderate amount of time at their desk. It requires some assembly with a hex key and screws (both included).
HÅG capisco 8106 ergonomic office chair: From £806, Posturite
Created in the eighties by legendary Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik, the capisco desk chair is plush and playful, both in extreme measure. Its saddle shaped back and tactile footrests encourage you to experiment with how you’re sitting, which could well make it a smart choice for people who like to move about while they sit.
It’s great for perching – a position achieved by raising the height of the seat and sitting forward. You can also give yourself a nice breather by leaning right back on it, which is extremely relaxing once you’ve learnt to fully trust the chair.
John Lewis & Partners gerard office chair: £50, John Lewis & Partners
We’re glad to say that “ergonomic” and “affordable” are not mutually exclusive. The gerard office chair from John Lewis proves it. Smart looks and simplistic design are the orders of the day here, and the gerard, with its rearward pointing arms and pleasingly curved back, does well on both these accounts.
As we’ve found with other more reasonably priced options, this chair does have some limitations with regards to customisation: the only adjustments available are height and swivel. That said, if you’re the sort who prefers to simply plonk yourself down on a nicely made chair without doing too much fine-tuning, the gerard could be perfectly matched to your needs.
Vitra HAL studio armchair: £390, John Lewis & Partners
Are the early noughties back in style yet? The HAL studio armchair looks like it could well have been part of the set of T4’s Popworld, which in our eyes in surely a good thing. It’s a simple chair, with the seat consisting entirely of a single plastic “shell”. This makes it ideal for those who prefer a stiff, solid feel; and not so much so for lovers of plush comfort. Adjustability is restricted to height and swivel.
This isn’t the most therapeutic of desk chairs, so we wouldn’t advise it for people working very long desk-based shifts. Instead, we think it could serve very well as spare seating for guests, collaborators or clients working side-by-side with you for a few hours at a time. It looks great, and at 9kg is light enough to stow away without breaking a sweat.
Home & Haus kneeling chair: £88.99, Wayfair
Here’s a bit of a curveball to close with. Kneeling chairs offer an interesting – and sometimes very comfortable – alternative to sitting down. You place your knees on the lower pad, rest your back on the upper pad, and lightly engage your core muscles to stay balanced. We found this way of resting helped keep us alert and ready to work, while also providing a decent amount of support. This swivel model with adjustable support from Home & Haus is ideal for desk-based use – especially in, our opinion, as an occasional use alternative to your regular desk chair.
The verdict: Ergonomic desk chairs
For the many unfortunates among us who spend as much time at our desks as we do in bed, having the right desk chair is a big deal. With this in mind, we reckon the Herman Miller aeron warrants its considerable price tag. It’s supremely comfy, adjustable to an exceptional degree, and it looks great to boot.
If you’re a relatively tall person or are looking for a more affordable option, we’d urge you to consider the HÅG sofi mesh too.