History of Office Chairs
Charles Darwin, naturalist, biologist, and geologist, but best known for his ideas on evolution was probably the first person to add wheels to his chair to get around quickly without getting up to see his projects with a fast moving about on wheels. When rail transportation came to power in the early 1800s, people were taking trips and goods were being shipped. With workers in the roundhouses and offices keeping records, bookkeeping, and corresponding, they needed chairs with wheels to sit on to move about quickly and efficiently.
The office chair was later designed to swivel, have casters (wheels) so that employees could stay seated at their desks for longer hours at a time. Over time, technology has improved the functionality and comfort of office chairs and we should thank the stars for that. The vintage office chairs were not comfortable, had 3 or 4 legs to tip over, but did manage to have casters and able to swivel. Even with the thin layer of leather over the wood back and chair seat, it was still very hard to sit on. I would hate to have to sit on this for 8-hours each day!
Plain solid wood chairs have evolved to have cushions, armrests, headrests, and adjustments for more comfort. The backs move up and down, the back and seat tilt backward and forward, and the cushions are better in quality and comfort. The waterfall design helps for healthy blood circulation with the roll-over seat edge that reduces leg pressure and overall fatigue on most office chairs unless otherwise told. See the far-right picture of the forward edge turning down on the waterfall edge.
Office Chair Types
Whatever your need is, there are a plethora of office chairs from which to choose today. The most basic chair, shown on the left, is the task chair that offers no headrest or lumbar support. You would not want to sit on one of these for more than a few hours at a stretch. They are uncomfortable but do give more room to move seated than the expensive ones but no better than a kitchen table chair. You will have no levers or knobs to control one single function.
The mid-back office chairs will give full back support and can be relatively comfortable and semi-supportive for at least 3- to 4-hours. The low-end models usually have only one lever for moving the seat.
The Herman Miller Aeron® chair is one of the best mid-back office chairs shown here. It has all the bells and whistles and sells for under $1000. This type chair will give fuller back support with the right ergonomic design and can be sat in all day. See the Herman Miller Aeron® chair on the right.
The best full-back chairs will give you full back and head support. These are categorized as executive chairs, but anyone can have them, and I do! These are the most expensive, most comfortable, and loaded with functions for your best body support. Check out these fine chairs here. You can sit in these for hours on end and the ones that recline are great for a short nap too.
When Did the Ergonomics Stuff Start?
Ergonomics was an important design conceived in the 1970s. That was a good thing because today, we can have with our office chair used at the office or at home adjustable armrests, adjustable seats, back supports, different heights to get away from recurring stress and injuries, including lower back pain relief from sitting too long. Cushions can be moved to prevent pressure on the bottom thighs. The ergonomic chairs for office or home are the best chairs available today.
Chairs Do Breakdown Over Time
Everything created breaks down or wears out over time. So do we! The same goes for office chairs. The seat cushions might lose their softness or firmness, become faded, stained, and tarnished over time. They cannot be repaired. You could add a cushion shown here. It seems not cost-effective to toss a chair to the junkyard when a cushion will solve the problem. You might like to have more lumbar support; if so, check the lumbar support cushions here.
Casters (wheels) can and will stop turning and scrape the floor or put grooves in it. Sometime a little 3-in-1 oil will help with the removal of dirt and hair from the wheel attachments. If lubrication doesn’t help, they are easy to replace at an affordable price. Casters are a standard stock item available for replacement.
Height adjustments use gas cylinders for the pneumatic functions. They can leak providing no movement for no support. It’s amazing that manufacturers of chairs know what will break down or wear out. These office chair gas lift pneumatic cylinders can also be replaced and it’s easy and cheap to do. Don’t dump the chair for an inexpensive part. If at the office, the maintenance department can do it. You can also do it yourself if you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty.
As for the armrests—they too can break, wear out from arm friction, or come loose. They too can be repaired or replaced. All chairs use a different configuration. Check your chair brand and model number and research for it on Amazon.com® or at the manufacturer’s website. There are websites that do nothing but chair part replacement items so you’re in luck. The armrests are usually made of plastic with attachment hardware.
Enjoy your office chair and replace broken parts when needed. Don’t be a part of the throwaway society just because your company pays for the chair. It best to be frugal and have small cheap parts replaced for a chair you are comfortable sitting in.