A good studio chair can really make a difference when you’re in it for the better part of a day.
We are going to take a look at a couple of options that don’t make you feel like you’ve slept in the trenches for a month after sitting in them the whole day.
If you are having frequent back pain issues, a good chair is all the more important. Pair that with a good studio desk to have everything in good reach and you’ll enjoy your studio work time a bit more.
Also, remember to take a break every now and then and do a bit of light stretching. No matter how good the chair is you don’t want to mummify yourself in it.
In this guide
Tips on choosing a good chair
There is more that looks when it comes to having a comfortable chair for long sitting periods so let’s take a look ‘behind the scenes’ into what makes a chair a good one.
Height and arm height
If you work with keyboard and mouse a lot, and a lot of studios do nowadays, you might want to pay attention to how your arms go from your armrests on the desk.
Ideally, you have your armrest at the same height as the desk itself.
To achieve this you need to make sure that your chair can be adjusted to a height that leads your arm rest to get to the desk level and/or have adjustable armrest height.
Ideally, you have both adjustments for the best results for your setup.
So, measure the height of your desk and pay attention to min-max height for the chair, if you can grab one with adjustable armrest height as well.
The fabric that covers the chair can really have an impact on the overall experience when you’re sitting in it for hours on end.
Ideally, you want a material that can breathe without issues otherwise you’ll get hot and sweaty which is on the opposite side of comfortable.
This is the reason why you see many chairs using meshes. Leather is ideal to make your chair a mini sauna, especially in the summer.
The level of options that you are given greatly varies from chair to chair. Ideally, you want as many options and adjustments as you can get.
Here’s the thing, we humans are not the same size, shape and all that. Manufacturers most likely use averages when it comes to choosing their heights, widths and so on.
Averages will work for you if you are exactly the average, but you are probably not. So having options that you can adjust and test out then re-adjust until you find the sweet spot I think can really make a difference.
Things that can be adjusted include seat height, backrest height, armrest height and so on and so forth. You get the point, the more adjustment options the better.
Seat pan size
This is more important than you would’ve tough and here’s why.
To sit comfortably and allow the backrest and lumbar support to properly hold you, you should sit all the way back in the seat pan.
In that position you should also have a bit of space between the seat pan and the back of your knees, some say two to for fingers of space. The point is to have the back of the knees free floating so that there is no pressure applied there.
Another thing that helps with your leg comfort is the front of the seat pan.
Some seats add some extra padding on the front which puts a lot of pressure on the back of your knees and thighs and it can be really bothering after sitting a few hours.
This waterfall style doesn’t apply that pressure and makes the sitting a lot more bearable for the legs.
You’ve probably heard about this thing before.
The idea is that your natural back shape is not straight so a chair that will follow your natural back curves will have lumbar support.
Ideally, when you sit straight in the chair there should be no gaps between your back and the backrest.
If you have neck pain issues, a good headset might be something that would benefit you.
It might be especially beneficial if you want to comfortably work a bit reclined which some say, is better for your back than sitting straight.
This is something you might want to pay attention to.
Here’s the thing, a lot of good chairs are very expensive and out of reach and there are a lot of copycats that make a similar style of chairs to the expensive ones but of course, cheaper and not very durable and with a ton fewer features.
If your chair breaks in a few months you might want to be covered by a warranty.
Steelcase Leap – best overall
This is probably the best bang for buck chair you can get in terms of comfort and adjustment features. And if you are one to care about matching colors there are plenty to choose from with this model.
From the start, this chair is made for long sittings so the design is made to accommodate and support you without putting much pressure in any one spot.
After you’ve made all of the adjustments to fit you the chair holds all your spine comfortably.
Note mentioning, if you are over 400 lb, you can grab the Leap Plus which is, for the most part, exactly the same as the normal Leap but it can hold up to 500 lb and the seat width goes from 19.25’ to 22.75’ with the seat depth adjustment going from 15.75’ – 18.75’ to 16.75 – 18.75.
Overall, the Plus is wider and deeper to accommodate larger people.
Like mentioned above in the article, when sitting, you want to have a bit of space between the end of the chair and the back of your knees to prevent the chair from putting pressure there.
The seat depth adjustment allows you to get to that right spot for your specific leg length. You just pull on a lever and push the sit back and forth to your liking.
On the set itself, there is a bit of padding which some people say it’s not enough but that’s more personal preference that anything. The seat is quite comfortable.
The front of the seat is also flexible and bends a bit to the weight of your legs to minimize the pressure it puts on the back of your thighs.
If you feel you are too tight in it, you probably want to return it and replace it with the Leap Plus. I think a lot of people don’t know about the Plus version but you do now so pick the one suited for you.
Moving from the seat and up in the back area, the chair has adjustable lumbar support so you are not stuck with the default shape the manufacturer came up with.
You simply sit in it and move the lumbar support up and down until it perfectly fills that lower curve on the back and there is no gap between your back and the seat.
Like the seat pan, the backrest has a bit of flexibility to it so it can self-adjust to your position. It also has an adjustment for the firmness of the lower back portion.
The Leap can recline up to 120° and while doing that it also moves the seat a bit forward to follow your natural shape when reclining.
The reclining mechanism can be adjusted for tension and also stop position so if you want to be able to recline but not all the way, you have the option to stop at a few point in between.
Moving on to the armrests, these are very adjustable as well with adjustment for height, forward or backward position, pivot and you can also pull them inwards if you find that they are too far apart.
Overall, a great tool for those of us that spends hours on end in our chairs.
Still, you might want to take breaks any now and then and stretch a bit. No matter how well the seat is built, sitting 12-14 hours a day without some movement will still be bad for your body.
Herman Miller Aeron – open mesh alternative
The Aeron is sort of a superstar chair, initially designed in 1994 it quickly became a go-to chair for a lot of enterprises of the era and a lot of dot-com startups.
The current model is more or less the same but it has been updated throughout the years to adapt to newer research.
The shape is probably instantly recognizable by now, even if you don’t know the name, you know you’ve seen this thing before.
If you look at interviews with people around big studios most likely you’ve seen this chair in some of those videos.
If you follow Pensado’s Place on YouTube, this is the chair Dave uses. If you don’t follow him, what are you doing?
The seat comes in three sizes to accommodate your particular weight and height and you can see which could fit you best based on this chart below.
The major difference, and most obvious one, from the Leap, is that instead of using padded seat and backrest it uses a mesh. A mesh that works sort of like a mattress and takes the shape of your body once you sit in it.
This makes it very important to get the chair that is recommended for your weight otherwise you might sink in too much into that mesh or otherwise too little.
The major advantage though is the fact that your body can breathe through it so in the summer your chair doesn’t subtly transform into a mini sauna.
In terms of adjustments, it has plenty of them, height, lumbar support position, and all that good stuff.
However, you need to pay attention to what you buy. You will find the chair in a lot of configurations and sellers don’t really do a good job explaining what the configuration actually is.
If you have the time and patience to dig through the options, figure out what features you can do without, then you can get a version that is a bit cheaper than the fully loaded one.
Argomax Mesh EM-EC001 – an affordable option
If you don’t have the kind of budget required for the above options, the Argomax Uninspired Name might be an option for you.
It’s one of the many chairs that take cues from the more expensive options. This one comes pretty highly rated and does a few things well.
First of all, it’s a mesh chair so you don’t overcook in it. The other thing that I particularly like about the chair is that the front end of the seat slopes and, as mentioned earlier, this puts a lot less pressure on your thighs.
Build quality is pretty solid but if you are over 300lb it’s not going to hold you.
In terms of adjustments, it has the usual adjustments of any chair, height, angle plus adjustable armrests.
The backrest has the usual S shape that you see in a lot of these ergonomic like chairs but it’s not adjustable and does not offer lumbar support like the others in this article do.
Still, for the money you can’t expect much else than it offers considering it’s almost a third of the price compared to the others, depending on the options you get for the others, of course.
Featured image credits: Chris Luk