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The Evolution of Ergonomic Office Chairs

The Evolution of Ergonomic Office Chairs

If you have an office job or work from home, you most likely spend a lot of your time in your desk chair. Although you may already know that there are many different types of office chairs, you may not know much about their history and how far they’ve come since the beginning. Back in earlier days, desk chairs weren’t close to comfortable; therefore, change was necessary. Read on to learn more about the evolution of ergonomic office chairs.

The First Chair

Believe it or not, the concept of an office chair has been around since the days of Julius Caesar. Interestingly, chairs were more like thrones in these early days, and they were a symbol of power or godliness. This specific chair type is a Curule chair, and people like priests, magistrates, and other high leaders sat in these chairs during business meetings and other important matters.

Now that you know a little bit about the original history of chairs, let’s dive into the evolution. After all, you’re probably wondering how your current desk chair came from the Curule chair from ancient times. Follow along to learn more about the steps it took to get here.

The Evolution

It’s no secret that chairs have changed significantly over the past couple of centuries, but you may not know how the modern-day office chair came to be. This story starts back in the 1840s, so let’s get into it.


At this point, office chairs were only for the government and academic officials. Interestingly, Charles Darwin was one of the earliest known people to adopt an upgraded office chair. His creation was nothing fancy—he attached wheels to the legs of his normal chair to gain the ability to swivel around his workspace and access different specimens without getting up and moving the chair.

As the railroad system became more significant in the mid-1800s, more businesses began to expand. This movement called for an increase in staff and more people sitting at work every day. As a result, this new way of life called for new, improved features on office chairs. In 1849, Thomas E. Warren invented a new design for the Centripetal Spring Armchair. This chair featured a swivel option and caster wheels to give workers the ability to reach items from a seated position without standing up.

At this point, office chairs weren’t common for many people, as office jobs hadn’t become popular or widely available. With that said, the 1900s brought fascinating advancements that made further changes to the office chair possible.


After a few years, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a new contraption known as the Larkin building chair to help clerical workers maintain comfort and good posture. Unfortunately, this chair earned the nickname of “suicide chair,” as it had a bad and common issue of tipping over with the person sitting on it. While this may seem like a step in the wrong direction, we must understand that flaws in the engineering process are just as important as successes.


Several years passed, but that wasn’t the end for office chairs. In fact, many different attempts at new chairs surfaced in the 1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Vertebra chair came about. This chair was the first on the market to introduce automatic adjustments. However, the famous Ergon chair came about in 1976, and many people consider this to be a breakthrough product, as it put emphasis on improving comfort for the user and maintaining physical health.


In the 1990s, another office chair came into the picture. Interestingly, the creators of the Aeron chair wanted to create a product that pleased the eye and the body. Therefore, they added a reactive tilt and mesh backing that support back comfort and regulate overall body temperature.


Contemporary office chairscontinued to advance in the 2000s and even still today. Manufacturers are always working to create the latest and greatest desk chairs to ensure comfort and maintain health. Believe it or not, some modern chairs can cost more than 1,000 dollars, which may be out of the price range for many consumers. Luckily, various manufacturers continue to keep their costs lower and still supply a relatively comfortable and high-quality product.

Why Are Ergonomic Chairs Important?

Ergonomic desk chairs are important for office workers because they provide a comfortable spot for them to sit for an extended period. Unfortunately, office jobs can wreak havoc on the human body, as sitting for long periods can cause back and neck pain, issues with blood flow, carpal tunnel, arthritis, swelling in legs or feet, etc. As a result, having the most accommodating desk chair is the best way to maintain a natural seated position with good posture for most of the workday.

The Future of Office Chairs

You may already know that many people are opting to stand while they work, as adjustable desks have made it easy to transition from sitting to standing positions throughout the day. Furthermore, many people are using this opportunity to walk on walking pads, which are basically treadmills without handles and other functions. Although standing has become more popular, office chairs aren’t going away anytime soon. Those working in offices need to be comfortable throughout the day to do their job effectively.

As you can see, office chairs have come a long way, and they may continue to advance in the future. After all, technology advances almost every day, which is likely to continue forever. Desk chairs will be an office staple until the very end, but they may look different in the coming years with more features and extra comfort.

After learning more about the evolution of ergonomic office chairs, you should have a better understanding of how far developments have come over the years to produce the chair you’re currently sitting in for work. Whether you have an old-school or modern chair with extra lumbar support, you can appreciate the many advancements and inventions that had to take place to get here. It’s rather difficult to imagine a world without chairs, but they didn’t always exist in ancient times.

The Evolution of Ergonomic Office Chairs

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