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5 Things You Might Not Know About Office Chairs

Article March 31, 2018  |  Text by Petra Baumruková Text by Petra Baumruková

Would you rather buy a luxury car or a first-class chair? And what role did Charles Darwin play in the evolution of office furniture? (Hint: A very important one.) You’d better seat yourself firmly in your chair — where you spend about a third of your waking life anyway — because what you’re about to read might make you fall out of it.

On the Origin of the Wheeled Species

It might sound unbelievable, but it’s said that Charles Darwin designed the first office chair. Like every enthusiastic scientist, he was also a bit of a workaholic, constantly fiddling around with his flora and fauna samples. He put wheels on the feet of his chair so that he could stay relaxed in his seat while still being able to move around the room efficiently during his research. Et voilà, the forefather of the modern office chair.

Photo by Wellcome Images

A Politician Campaigned for Office Chairs

The demand for office chairs is directly related to industrialization and the development of rail transportation in the late 1800s. Family firms began to grow beyond their families and to need administrators, who needed chairs. This caught the interest of many — including Otto von Bismarck. For his newly founded parliament, he ordered a large number of office chairs, and this significantly helped to popularize them.

X Games on Chairs

You and your teammates may have raced your chairs to the office kitchen before. But in 2009 in Bad König, Germany, they took things further — they organized the world’s first office-chair races. Since then, their Chair Grand Prix has also been held in Japan and other countries. Careful, though — you’ll need a helmet and kneepads, because this is no easy ride. 

The World’s Most Expensive Chairs

Meet The Emperor. A chair — but more a futuristic “station” — for workaholics and gaming freaks. Its built-in audio system, hookups for up to three monitors, and latest computer system are all fairly expectable. But you might not expect are conveniences like a special phototherapeutic light that pumps vitamin D into the chair’s occupant. And the price? Well, you can buy a new BMW, or the top-of-the-line Emperor 200. Because it costs about $50,000.

A Gym Under Your Bum

According to a study published by the University of North Carolina, a good, ergonomic chair can increase an employee’s performance by up to 17.5%. It seems that Hammacher Schlemmer (yes, another German firm) took that literally when they decided to produce an office monster: a chair with a built-in elliptical trainer, upon which users are said to burn up to 4,000 calories per working week. So, you can advance your projects while building your physique.