Why Are Professional Office Chairs So Expensive? | ARTiculations


If you’ve ever looked into buying an office
chair and have say looked up some options online – you’ll find that it’s possible
to buy one for about $50. There are also ones for between a hundred
to a thousand. And there are ones for over a thousand dollars. You may think to yourself- aren’t they all
just things we put our butts on? What’s with the big price range? And what kind of crazy person would spend
over a thousand dollars on a chair? Well let me tell you a story. The first chair I ever bought for myself was
a chair from I think Walmart for like $39.99. After about 18 months of use, an arm had broken
off, the adjustable seat had gotten stuck, the vinyl had ripped in a bunch of places
and the seat cushion was as flat as pancake. In fact, this chair wasn’t even frequently
used – I maybe sat in it for about 1-2 hours a day on average. A good, durable office chair should last about
10-15 years while being used continuously for an average of a 40 hour work week. A cheap chair may cost you less initially,
but if you had to replace it every year or two It may end up costing you more in the
end. And that’s not even mentioning that cheaper
chairs are often very uncomfortable and not ergonomically designed. This is not to say that every single person
needs to spend a thousand dollars on a chair. For light residential use, you could probably
find a good quality chair for that purpose for a few hundred dollars. But if you’re looking to buy a chair for business
use, or you work from home and you do spend about 40 hours a week sitting it
in – you probably want to look into spending a little bit more to get a good quality chair
for the long term. Designing a quality commercial office chair
often takes years and cost a lot of money to implement. It involves a lot of research and development,
testing of materials, concepts iterations, and involve the work and input of many scientists,
engineers, designers, technologists and even healthcare professionals. For instance – the Steelcase leap chair took
four years to develop, cost 35 million dollars, and involved 11 academic studies. But why do furniture manufacturers bother
with doing all of those things? Well one, because it takes a lot of work to
develop something that’s strong and durable. Most commercial manufactures will put their
chair designs through vigorous testing methods for function and durability. An example of this is the ISO 21015 test for
office work chairs. This test would determine the stability, strength
and durability of a chair by applying various standardized simulations of functional use
as well as expected misuse. Number two, most high quality chairs are extensively
ergonomically designed, since most of us expect to sit in them for up to 40 hours a week. Sitting for a long period of time in an uncomfortable
seat, a poorly supported cushion, or a strained position – could lead to severe health conditions. Thus a chair should not only be comfortable,
but also adjustable. So most professional office chairs are designed
with mechanisms that allow a user to easily adjust seat height, back angles, seat depth,
chair tilt, arm location, chair width, tension, and sometimes even the locations of lumbar
support – allowing the chair to adapt to your body type, work conditions and personal preference. Many commercial office chairs are also customizable. At a residential furniture store you generally
have a limited choice of design and fabric options, because manufactures can keep costs
low by manufacturing a few standardized products in mass quantity. But commercial customers usually require a
wider selection of options, so commercial suppliers generally have a higher per-item
cost. A commercial chair supplier usually allows
you to choose from a greater selection of designs, finishes, and fabric options. You can even bring in your own fabric, or
have the option of printing a custom graphic or pattern onto the fabric. Many commercial businesses want to be able
to reflect their brand colour or image in the design of their offices, especially if
it’s for a customer facing environment. But if you’re just a person who’s looking
for a simple functional chair for your home office – you most likely don’t need
all of that. But the option is there if you have a very
specific design in mind. Ultimately – a great chair, like all great
designs, seamlessly ties together elegant form, innovative technology and functional
excellence. The Aeron chair, a Herman Miller product that
was designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick In 1994 – is actually a part of the collection
in the Museum of Modern Art. An interesting and innovative part of their
design is that its seat as well as back are actually not built out of traditional upholstery. It’s made out of an intricate network of polyester
mesh that’s stretched over an aluminum frame. This make it light and flexible yet durable,
resilient, stain proof, splash proof and its open mesh helps to keep your butt airy and
cool. So if you’re looking to buy a chair – whether
you’re looking for a classic work of of art that’s worth of a museum, or you’re just looking
for a simple functional chair – hopefully this gives you a little bit of an idea into
what to consider and what to look for. Often I like to talk about how “everything
in this world is designed” – from the concrete curbs on the side the road, to toilet partitions
in a public bathroom, to the plastic trims on the edges of a chair. Most people don’t even realize, or take
for granted just how much work and thought has gone into designing some of the most ubiquitous
things in the world. So I’d love to hear from you guys. What are some of your curious questions about
the design world, or just what are some of your questions about the everyday objects
around you. Feel free to leave it in the comments below, or suggest it to me via any of my social media accounts. Thanks for watching and happy sitting! Subtitles by the Amara.org community

100 thoughts on “Why Are Professional Office Chairs So Expensive? | ARTiculations

  1. Although not completely wrong, you are strongly biased by the Veblen effect…

  2. Ive used my cheap 30$ Walmart chair ( I literally think it's the same exact one as shown in your video lol ) for about 5 years now and the arm has broken off of it 2 or three times now . I just bought a steelcase chair and I am hoping to see the benefits and that it was a good buy 🙂

  3. rule number one for youtuber – human face is something too common to look at on an lcd

  4. Everyone says the steelcase leap and herman miller aeron are great…but- granted, I haven't tried them out- just by looking at them, they look kind of cheap. I mean, look at how thin the seat cushion is on the leap, and how comfortable can a mesh seat really be compared to some nice, thick, high density memory foam like the tempur pedic chair you can find at Staples?

  5. over a 1000$? hah, try 35 thousand dollars of US tax payer money on a single office chair. Scott Pruitt, Head of the EPA. Fuck Trump…

  6. I get that, but you'd expect all of that stuff to be standardized by now since in the end it is "only" a chair and little additional original research is needed over the years. So $1000+ for a chair still seems rediculous to me.

  7. Just get a markus from Ikea. Better than most other chairs that costs even hundreds more. It's won best chair design for many years running too.

  8. The spinning chair at 1:48 is a Steelcase Leap chair, the most comfortable chair I've ever sat in. It was my desk chair at work for eight years, and it held up well in addition to being very ergonomic and very comfortable. It originally retailed for about $900, but it's totally worth it.

  9. I went through a period where I basically had a perpetual cheapo Office Depot chair. I paid for the 3-year extended warranty each time my $150 chair broke after 1-2 years, so I was essentially only paying $15-30 a year after the initial purchase. This was a pretty good racket, but also extremely wasteful in the grand scheme of things. Cue my father ranting about how in his day you could buy an all steel fan that, while relatively expensive compared to what you can buy today, would last you a lifetime.

  10. Like how the MWE Labs Emperor Chair costs anywhere between 5k$ to 15k$ depending on which features you decide to add to it.

  11. I'm sitting in a mesh chair right now. Very comfortable and keeps me cool, unlike my old chair that I used to find myself sticking to. I've had it for years and it only cost about £60.

  12. So basically, spending 399 on a chair isn't so ridiculous after all

  13. I've heard it asserted before, though, that many of the claims made by companies who make these chairs are pseudoscientific, allowing them to upsell consumers by crazy margins based on some long-disproven theory of how the body works from the early 1900's.

  14. because a lot of people have office jobs…. like your shoes and your bed… you spend a lot of time on your ass sitting down all day!

    very same reasons as the mattress or even a solid pair of shoes

  15. You need to partner with 99 Percent Invisible somehow! You both target the same niche design audience.

  16. For the curious, the Aeron chair starts at $820 and goes up to $1295

  17. The arguments stated on this video are valid but irrelevant. Office chairs are expensive because business can pay for them, simple as that. Charge as much as the costumer is willing to pay. Many products across many industries are overpriced, the cost of manufacturing is sometimes orders of magnitude lower than the price at the store, but if a costumer is willing to pay that much why not charge that much. For example the perfume industry, it's obvious that no liquid on earth should cost that much per gallon, but you do not see costumers complaining.

  18. 2:38 I am wondering what occasion results in that pose on an office chai- wait a minute

  19. I have a cheap 40 euro chair. It has served me well for almost a year (daily usage). Yes, it's not the best choice – the only adjustable property is the height. Though, it has armrests and it is better than a plain wooden chair. Not going for anything more fancy with my student budget.

  20. So using a $10 wooden dining chair for 40 hours a week isn't ideal then? Whoops

  21. I got a used Aeron chair for 200 around 5 years ago. Not sure how long the previous owner had it but it's still working great!

  22. then why a lot of that expensive chair missed headrest? this is the most annoying problem for me as the choice is mostly only ikea markus or gaming chairs.

  23. When the Steelcase Leap chair came up, I recognised it instantly. My employer has a number of chair models around its many sites – and the Leap is one of those models. And you can be sure that I always go straight for those chairs whenever I have the choice. So I guess all that R&D paid off, for me at least!

  24. I can tell you from experience the Herman Miller Aeron Chair needs a major update. It is the standard chair at my office and the hard plastic frame on the left and right sides needs some kind of cushion because they are exposed and encroach on the actual seating area. Also the arms do not have the ability to tilt down at the front and they tend to collide with the underside of a desk so I tend to lower them out of the way even though I cannot use them at all at that point.

    P.S. I design things in an engineering firm for a living so I am a bit picky about this sort of thing. That said I cannot understate how important it is to get a decent chair that is credibly rated for 6-8+ hours of use even it is to used for 3-4 hours. The reason I say this is when you think about it most people spend an extended period of time throughout the day. We sit in the office, we sit in our cars or buses or trains when we go anywhere, and we also for the most part sit at home when we are doing things like paying the bills or watching YouTube etc.

  25. 50×10=500, 50×15=750, by that math youd be way better off buying a $50 chair every year for 15 years than a $1000 chair

  26. I wish I could spend that much on a chair, I sit all day on a wooden dorm chair.

  27. If I had to sit in a chair for 40 hours a week, I'd kill myself. What kind of life is that? Two hours max, then I need an hour and a half AWAY from a desk. Any other work I should be able to do standing or walking around.

  28. I'l love to hear about mice and keyboards, I get a lot of flack for using a trackball, and liking 'ergonomically designed' keyboards.

  29. Herman Miller chairs are good. I have two in the lab. But the best thing so far a stool I built myself

  30. I hate that stupid illustration, that 3D generic bobble head man. Stop using it. @5:11.

  31. I bought a 70$ Chair from IKEA which is the best chair I have ever tried. In my opinion it even surpasses the expansive chairs at the office.

  32. we have those mesh chairs at my office. I actually dislike them despite all the wonderful reasons that make them great. I dislike them mainly because when I sit in them the weight of my body pushes down on the mesh while the frame of the chair pushes up under my knee/thigh area. this makes it very uncomfortable and frustrates me everytime I need to use one of them

  33. watching this while sitting in a chair that feels like a piece of wood and is throwing out my back. lol

  34. I'm thinking of all those chair in schools, and libraries. Wood, no cushions.

  35. Well, our company uses that "piece of art" and the mesh is pretty solid(yet flexible) and has tendency to grind off your pants as you wiggle while sitting on it. You can spot the fine dust in color of your most used pants piling up on the mechanism beneath.

  36. Mesh chair are underrated! Especially in hot climates where after sitting in leather chair for more than 30 minutes there's a big pool of sweat in it.

  37. I would spend few hundred dollars on an office chair when my cat will stop scratching furniture ! ^^

  38. Hey, Betty. I am reupholstering my home office chair that I bought in 2002. So that is 16 year, and needs new skins. Keilhauer Simple Chair, price$450.00. + tax;). See you Monday;)

  39. Maybe you can also look at this chair, I bought it a few days ago and it feels good.http://www.homylink.co.uk/HomyLink-Home-Office-Chair-Ergonomic-Comfortable-Mesh-High-Back-with-Adjustable-Headrest-Armrest-Seat-Height-Tilt-Tension-Lumbar-Support-Spine-Protection-p995082.html

  40. car chairs need far more testing and experimenting, office chairs require far less as most every material and design has already been tested and most major brands are all owned by the same company. you get get a chair for a car far cheaper and many consider them far more comfortable and even modify them into office chairs

  41. For 3d Artists like myself that spend many hours hunched over a desk for drawing on a wacom intuos tablet, if a chair doesn't have forward tilt than the chair is useless, over 90% of the chairs on the market claim that they are ergonomic but in reality their not, they use that term regardless.

  42. Sadly, while I sit in a chair in my college dorm room constantly while doing homework, chilling, or playing games, I don't really have hundreds of dollars lying around to buy a good one 😢

  43. ive been using the same shitty 40 dollar office chair for the past 11 years and the only thing thats happened to it is the cushion is flat. i put some wd40 on it sometimes when it squeeks but its pretty much in perfect condition lmao wtf

  44. I tried showing this vid to my coworkers because we have quite a few of those Herman Miller mesh chairs amongst others in our work space. They found the whole topic uninteresting sadly 😞

  45. found an aeron in an alley in hawthorne, bought new seat pan for 60 on ebay, now i have a 1000 dollar chair for 60.

  46. Welp the office chair I bought a year ago for 200$ is a pile of crap. The leather is flaking off all over the chair , a screw inside the chair is shattered in half now. The arm rests are wobbly. The arm rests have small holes in them. Do not buy the executive office chair.

  47. steelcase leap owner reporting in!! its wonderful!! came from an old bucketstyle gamer chair DX racer and never buying that trash again!

  48. Hi, I´m a student so i can´t afford such expensive chairs. Can somebody recommend a chair for ~300€? Some days i sit for 8 hours at the desk, so i need a really good one (ergonomic etc.)

  49. Hermann Miller Equa. Get one second hand. From the 80s. Amazing comfort. Looks boring. i bought one for my family members. Never look back.

  50. OMG! I ran into this video again after over a year! Saw this in December 2017 and finally pulled the trigger on a leather Steelcase Leap. I spent almost $2k on it; but worth every penny. I've been using it for a year now (I work from home) and I long for it when I actually go in to my office on days I have meetings. The standard company chairs aren't anything like the leap. THANK YOU for this video!!!!

  51. These chair manufacturers can't possibly justify adding the cost of R & D to each chair when that same data is used to make subsequent chairs. In other words, they only have to pay for that data once.

    As for the manufacturing, the chairs are outsourced to China and made for pennies so there's no way any of these should cost $300-$400 at a store. The whole thing is a scam.

  52. There is a chair that has had a massive amount of money in its design, and you can sit in it all day with very little penalty to your comfort. That chair is the one in front of a slot poker machine, nee: the one armed bandit.

  53. Aeron has a warranty of 12 years. If you do the math, it's between 83-133 dollars per year depending on if you get the base model or a fully loaded version. You can buy a good chair once, or cheap chairs many times. For me I prefer to buy a quality chair once and know that it will last a long time.

  54. People pay more for car seat added features than they would consider for a chair they spend much more time in

  55. If you’re wealthy and it adds comfort to your life and you spend lots of time in it the inconvenience of having back pain then I’d go for it

  56. my stupid flat is so small I can't even have a chair to sit … I have to sit on my bed … or stand up … i don't even have space for walking.

  57. The additional ergonomic utility of spending $10,000 on a chair vs $210 probably isn't all that much. But the additional prestige that's comes from having your butt cuddled by something stylish and expensive looking is substantial.

  58. 99% of the time chair is just copy and paste. What design, what engineers and scientists? Bullshit!

  59. Back even just five years ago you used to be able to get a reasonably priced chair that was ergonomic and comfortable. A new chair of the same caliber and possibly even cheaper materials has almost doubled in price I feel. For the price of some of these chairs I might as well buy a lazyboy and install some casters on it. There's no justification for the price of some of these.

  60. If you would spend 50$ per year for 15 years, that is still far less than 1.000$. When you are like me, you don't have money left to spend in furniture after you paied for your loan and bought food.

  61. I have an old Kinnarps chair that a company threw out because they bought now chairs from the same company. Even though you can tell it has been used a lot (it is over 10 years old) it is still the comfiest chair I've ever sat in.

  62. Another thing, for example the Aeron comes with a 12 year warranty. For 12 years if something breaks you call the dealer, they send someone ( in my area that would be me) to assess the issue, order parts, and repair the chair.

  63. Herman Miller chairs come with a 12 year three shift warranty, that means a butt in that chair 24/7 that entire time

  64. Ergonomic chairs are a just myth that people are willing to buy into. Like health supplements. The best ergonomic is just a firm back support that allows you to sit straight, a cushioned seat and a appropriate height. Simply put, people are willing to pay high prices because it's a "health" business.

  65. The main reason why it’s so expensive it’s because it’s made in and from countries that have high pay rates. Why you think everything is made in China? It’s because employees gets pay under $4 a hour.

  66. Excellent volume, very good presentation. If only all Youtube video creators would get mic'd up
    the way you have done, I wouldn't have to keep casting videos from my old laptop to our TV's,
    in order to hear them.
    I just wanted to warn people * NOTTT * to buy those cheap plastic covered, faux leather, desk chairs
    from Staples. They only last about 2 years before the plastic covering begins to flake off in tiny pieces
    and from that point on, you will have a part time job of vacuuming that crap off your rug about 3 times
    a week if you have solid rugs that will show black plastic flakes easily. I bought 3 of these chairs from
    Staples and all of them have had this exact same problem. And there is no way to repair a chair
    with this problem. I have placed a black shirt around the back of the chair, to try and deter some
    of these fakes from falling on the rug but that is only marginally useful.

    WRZ
    Delaware County, PA
    metro-Philadelphia

  67. I still believe these chairs are the "apple" of chairs, it's for companies/people to show off how well off they are. But I appreciate the explanation from a different perspective.

  68. I have an Aeron and absolutely love it. Wouldn't have any other chair. It looks so cool at your desk when you're not sitting in it. When you are sitting in it, it kind of moves with you as you lean back and forth. There's a reason they're iconic. And now there's really no excuse to get one, you can find them at office furniture liquidators for sub $300. I found one two weeks ago at a Goodwill for $15, took it to an Aeron chair guy here in Austin, he fixed a couple of things and boom, I have a $1100 chair for about $180. It's true that these more expensive chairs hold up. You definitely get what you pay for and they're fixable.

    Although, we have the Generation chairs by Knoll at my office and they are extremely uncomfortable and feel cheap despite costing about $500 each. I absolutely hate them. Some of the execs got Knoll Life chairs which are designed similarly to the Aeron and are priced about the same.

  69. I got a cheap chair once, after two days my butt hurt so bad I thought it had injured me, I was scared to sit in it again.

    I took it back for refund.

  70. 1:55 such bullshit, it doesn't justify the cost of $1000+
    You can get a used car, a motorbike, a nice computer etc. for that price, and those things are a hundred times more difficult to engineer and produce.

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