By Will Price Photo by Chase Pellerin
This definitive guide to the best office chairs of 2019 explores everything you need to know to find an office chair best suited to your needs, including ergonomics, price, aesthetics and features.
Long has the doom of sitting been forecasted. Published papers aplenty have argued that a stationary life is shorter and trouble-ridden, and the primary workarounds are many — standing desks, frequent breaks, stretching, taking walks and so on. But none address the simple fact that, sometimes, to get shit done, we simply need to plant ourselves in a chair and get after it.
Luckily, a number of companies are working to beat each other at building the best office chairs, even though they all know it’s not possible. No one chair is the best for everyone, so take our guide with lots of salt. If you can, go to stores and showrooms in your area and sit down, lean back, lean forward, pull levers and ask questions about everything. Your back, muscles, various joints and brain will thank you.
Best All-Around Office Chair: Knoll ReGeneration
Beyond taking our “Best Value” category by way of a price most people can swallow mixed with smart design, it received one of the most valuable recognitions in product design — a Good Design Award — after it’s release in 2012.
The ReGeneration is the affordable update to the legendary Generation chair. It adjusts to your weight, posture and weird leaning tendencies on the fly (up to 270 degrees of posture change). It’s also warrantied for a whopping 12 years. It’s the proud owner of various highly-touted sustainability acronyms.
Knoll is the master of the office chair, and the more accessible version of its lauded office seating boasts the most useful functionality, comfort, extra options and looks at the most reasonable price point we found. Make sure to get the mesh-backed version if you run hot, and adding in the lumbar support comes highly-recommended by reviewers (though you may have to contact Knoll or the outlet you intend to purchase from to arrange this)
Best Budget Office Chair: Alera Elusion
Being on a budget does not mean settling for design of a lower quality; it means identifying smartly-engineered at price points don’t cause sweat. The Alera Elusion, which is also our best option under $200, is just that. It’s mesh-backed and features loads of recline and tension adjustment options for just $190.
If your definition of budget is a bit more expansive, we recommend Herman Miller’s Sayl chair, which is made with better materials and has a better warranty behind it — not to mention a company with a legendary reputation. That said, the extra $200 to $250 you’ll need to shell out for a Sayl makes an impact large enough to favor the more affordable, impressively-built Elusion chair.
Take it from people working in one of the few industries people still regularly use and abuse writing tools.
Best Office Chair Brands
An extreme and praise-worthy focus on sustainable, eco-friendly design and gorgeous aesthetics come together with research-backed ergonomics at Humanscale. A through-line can be seen in all Humanscale’s more recent products — simplicity. Simplicity urged forward by the late American industrial designer Niels Diffrient in his partnership with Humanscale, which yielded two of the most notable and respected chairs ever — the Freedom and Diffrient World.