We were skeptical when we first heard of this: The first office chair designed especially for women. Do women really sit all that differently from men? But the designer, Monica Forster, makes a couple interesting points about the Lei chair, which Officeline is putting into production later this year.
First, women are more pear-shaped than men, so they sit with their elbows slightly more towards their backs, and less at their sides. Thus, the armrests of the Lei chair sprout from the backrest, rather than rising from the sides as usual. Second, women tend not to sprawl backwards when they're working; rather, they sit more upright, on the front of their seat. That means that they often slump forward. So the Lei has a more pronounced lumbar support and a more forward-leaning seat pan. And the seat-pan itself fosters a ladylike sitting position, legs together. Watch Forster explain:
But clever as the design might be—and it's apparently the result of a yearlong research project—we can't help but wonder if the business case might be shaky. Think about it: Men would probably quail at sitting in a chair tagged as specifically for ladies. As a result, you can imagine all kinds of musical-chair hijinks, during impromptu meetings. Instead of being a design you don't have to think about, it might become one more annoying thing to be aware of when you sit down. Even if the women in the office are thrilled, what office buyer would go for a chair exactly half as useful as a normal chair? Sometimes, clever design creates more problems than it solves. Do you think that's the case with Lei?