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The Good Life

Seat of comfort
Ergonomic chairs are finding favour in the Indian workplace 

Shruti Venkatesh

Herman Miller Aeron chair

For most people, sitting in an office chair for eight to nine hours a day leads to a string of problems — from neck pain and back ache to a general feeling of discomfort. And no amount of height adjustments of the chair seem to help. Precisely why Humanscale, a Bengaluru-based office furniture maker, launched chairs without knobs and levers. Instead, these chairs read the weight of the user and instinctively provide the perfect recline — a truly ‘ergonomic’ offering that has been designed for improving comfort plus efficiency in the working environment.

“For an office chair to be ergonomic, it has to be easy to operate and provide supported movement. And herein lies the problem. How many people out there know how to adjust their office chairs and how many people have a chair that reclines? The answer for both is very few,” says Alastair Stubbs, country manager (India), Humanscale.

The company, founded in 1983 and headquartered in New-York, specialises in designing high-performance ergonomic products for the workplace. The Freedom Chair, launched by Humanscale in 1999 was created by the renowned ergonomics designer Niels Diffrient and has been described by The New York Times as “the gold standard in office seating”. On sitting, the chair’s armrest and headrest simply adjust to your posture, offering comfort and flexibility. This, coupled with a sleek look, justifies the premium pricing of the Freedom Chair — a base price of 1 lakh.

If you prefer a contemporary feel mixed with classic, then take a look at the re-engineered Oxford Chair from the Republic of Fritz Hansen. The chair was originally designed in 1963 by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen for professors at St Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford. The iconic high-back chair in monochrome black spells classic elegance. You could choose that or the low-back variant with a robust foam layer and 11 colour options to give your workspace a contemporary twist. The upmarket Scandinavian furniture designer’s range of chairs will set you back by €2,215 to €2,809 for the premium variants, and €1,935 to €4,207 for the classic variants.

Another global furniture brand that’s a workplace staple is Michigan-based Herman Miller’s Embody and Aeron chairs that are retailed at a price range of 110,000 and 85,000. While Aeron comes equipped with its trademark tilt mechanism, adjustable posture fit and better suspension, Embody has a back that is designed like yours, with a central spine and flexible ribs. Further, the BackFit adjustment feature allows you to achieve a neutral, balanced posture. “The whole idea of these chairs is to support natural movement of our body and remove obstruction or pain points while sitting and working,” says Awdhesh Verma, sales director, SAARC region, Herman Miller. 

Most of these companies are seeing a strong growth in India, which has one of the youngest workforce in the world. “India is among the top three critical markets for Herman Miller, which is growing by more than 10% year-on-year,” he adds. In May, Humanscale will launch QuickStand Eco in India, which is touted to be the next generation portable sit/stand workstation. Given that we spend most of our time at our desks, it’s only fair to pick something that upholds the highest standard. As the veteran actor Robert De Niro once said, “If it’s the right chair, it doesn’t take too long to get comfortable in it.”

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