An office chair that can swivel and be adjusted to various heights and angles
An office chair, or desk chair, is a type of chair that is designed for use at a desk in an office. It is usually a swivel chair,
with a set of wheels for mobility and adjustable height. Modern office chairs typically use a single,
distinctive load bearing leg (often called a gas lift), which is positioned underneath the chair seat.
Near the floor this leg spreads out into several smaller feet, which are often wheeled and called castors.
Office chairs were developed around the mid-19th century as more workers spent their shifts sitting at a desk,
leading to the adoption of several features not found on other chairs.
- A Short History of the Birth and Growth of the American Office
Every desk needs a chair. In the days of scientific management, the chair that went with the clerk’s desk had to keep the employee working at maximum productivity.
And since clerks were discouraged from leaving their desks, the chair had to keep them sitting.
The best-designed chair for desk work was the swivel-based with a wooden saddle seat and slatted wooden back with armrests,
based on physiological studies of human anatomy. Many models had adjustable knobs and levers to make the chair fit its occupant.
This was the beginning of office ergonomics–the study of design as it relates to human comfort and function.
Ergonomics would become a thriving architectural design business in the mid-1970s.
The chair has always been a status symbol in the office.
Just as kings sat in thrones and no one else did, employers sat in armchairs while their clerks sat on stools
. For all of the sensible comfort of the swivel chair, cane-seated straightbacks implied status in the 1880s.
But when the typist’s chair evolved into the cushioned armless versions in today’s offices, the executive’s chair took on kingly dimensions with closed arms, wide seats,
and the tallest backrest.
By the 1950s, backrest height and seat size indicated job rank.
Just as the bigger the desk the more prestigious the job, the more comfortable-looking the chair was
, the higher up the organizational chart was the person who sat in it.
There are probably few more powerful symbols in the office and contemporary life than the chair.