Saturday, May 03, 2014

Reinventing the office chair

My current office chair I use at home that I bought a decade ago for about $100 (it was on sale) is starting to fall apart. One would hope that innovation over a decade would result in improvements.

First off, the office chair you sit in probably looks like this:



If you are lucky to work for a really nice employer, you might get one of these:



Oooh...armrests!

You know what the ironic thing is? Neither of those chairs were designed to be sat in, yet they cost just as much as (if not more than) a decent chair. Those chairs exist due to some insane thought process that managers and executives get nicer chairs to sit in as a person moves up the corporate ladder. I'm sorry, but that's just cruel. If you are going to sit in a chair for 6-12 hours a day, then it had better be comfortable to sit in regardless of who you are. Sitting in the wrong chair for hours on end can and will result in regular headaches and/or migraines (I'm speaking from personal experience here).

So what constitutes a comfortable chair? Leather vs. cloth is usually the first thing people consider. I consider other things. For instance, when I wake up in the morning, I sit in my office chair and put my bare feet on the legs. If the legs of the chair were made of metal, I'd be really annoyed because metal tends to be colder than plastic. Fortunately, the legs of my current chair are made of plastic.

I also lean back in my chair and rest my head. I have what is known as a "high-back" office chair. I measured the back of my current chair as being 28" tall (starting from the inside). I can find fairly cheap chairs that come up to 27" tall. That one inch difference is night and day - I have to tilt my head back uncomfortably to reach the headrest on a 27" chair. To get a 28" back on a chair, I have to go to the "big and tall" section, which immediately adds $250 to the price tag (probably because of hydraulic systems that support heavy people, which I don't need). Unfortunately, the closest chair to my desired measurements that I can find has...metal legs...arg! My $100 decade-old chair beats a $350 chair that's made today. As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating AND a waste of my time. Time better spent developing software!

Alright, enough ranting. Onto my wonderfully innovative idea: The ability to craft your own modular office chair from compatible parts. I would love to be able to mix and match:

  • Seat
  • Back
  • Armrests
  • Hydraulic system
  • Legs
  • Rollers
I could buy each part individually and then put the whole thing together myself. I'd be able to put together a $175 office chair that meets all of my requirements in half an hour from a single shopping trip. This isn't rocket science and it is VERY silly that we don't have this yet.

Through my recent experience, I've come to the singular conclusion that one size does NOT fit all. We should all go to our local office supply stores and request that they start carrying modular office chair equipment.

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