Choosing a Home Office Task Chair

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"I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society" - Henry David Thoreau

Mr. Thoreau, may I be so bold to add a fourth chair? Since making the leap from working at an office to working back at home, one thing has become painfully clear after hours of sitting at the computer desk: my Eames side shell chair, although a beautifully sculpted seat, is not working out as permanent task seating. It was fine and dandy when my daily toll behind the computer was just for an hour here and an hour there. But ergonomically speaking, Eames didn't design the fiberglass chair for long, continuous sitting behind a computer. And Thoreau would likely agree, a life without ergonomic comfort is as grievous as one without principle.

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All the tell-tale signs of ergonomic strain are showing up the last few days. Tightened shoulders, stiff neck, and a sore saddle. Previously, I desk-jockied in a Relax the Back Lifeform Contour Task Chair, which I inherited from my father (it was actually a gift from me a few years back). It wasn't the most stylish of chairs, but it provided outstanding support, and was built Tonka tough. Prior to that, I weathered a tempestuous relationship with the ubiquitous and iconic Herman Miller Aeron; I could never get fully comfortable in the chair, nor did I find its mesh back or lumbar support adequate. Other coworkers/friends reported otherwise, going to show you that office seating is a highly personalized and subjective affair dependent upon factors such as height, weight, tasks and posture preference (there are four neutral positions; I personally prefer the "reclined" posture, although I admit to taking it further to a near bobsledding position).

So, all day yesterday, well into the evening, I researched through tens of websites all discussing the pros and cons of specific high-end task chairs: the Humanscale Freedom, the Knoll Life (my favourite aesthetically), the Herman Miller Mirra and the Steelcase Leap were all shortlist contenders. There were plenty of other mass market and niche/design task chairs, but I ended up relying mostly on informative ergonomic evaluations and personal user reviews. Our fellow AT:LA editor Grace swears by the Mirra and others have mentioned the benefits of an ergonomic saddle. I eventually went with the most cushioned and supportive of the bunch, knowing my favourite chairs have always been the full seated, non-mesh variety, the Steelcase Leap. Office Environments had it for a competitive price with free shipping and just about every feature and fabric option available for customization (gel arm rests are going to be a welcome relief). It was a sizable chunk of change, but like mattresses, I believe in purchasing the best within your budget for the two pieces of furniture that have the most direct impact on personal health.

In the meantime, I get up every hour and do some stretch exercises, clean the apartment, or just take a walk to prevent any circulatory or muscle strain. A pillow now plays the role of a makeshift cushion, but it's a band aid solution. I'll have a full report of the Leap once it arrives, but for now it would be great to hear you about personal recommendations/experiences with task seating, whether it be an Office Depot special or a Yrjo Kukkapuro Plaano Chair. What's your favourite task chair?

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