An Office Chair Just for Ladies

foerster01

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?

[Via Designboom]

 

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13 Comments

  • Very interesting! I do have problems with standard men's office chairs. I have long arms and legs and a short torso, whereas most men have a longer torso and shorter arms and legs. I can't get my chair high enough off the floor to get my elbows in an ergonomic position for typing. The armrests on my chair are too high, even on chairs with adjustable armrests. The seat is too wide and too deep, and my back is never anywhere near the back of the chair. Ever. I'm tall for a woman, at 5'8", but small-framed and 125 lbs.

  • bridget kelly

    I dare say the chair could create problems for some men, but as the chair is specifically designed for ladies why concern yourself about mens problem with it.

  • Carolyn P McDonald

    How about you label a design made for people with shorter legs? The problem area is the thigh, which can be disproportionate, and can cause discomfort for males and females who really need chairs with a 17" or less (the distance from the edge of the chair to the end of the butt being the issue. I have no support at all in the standard office chair. If I sit back, my circulation is literally cut off at the knees. Don't make it pink! Just make it fit alternative sized people. Besides a tired back, I'm also tired of EVERY executive chair having a seat depth of 20 - 22", as if all executives are men!
    Carolyn McDonald, CEO for 26 years

  • Alice Wakeman

    Perhaps useful in a home office but I really can’t understand how these are going to make much money. I think most woman don’t have any problem with a standard office chair. They are probably quite comfy though. Dallas carpet cleaning

  • NearlyNormal

    There are many chairs that are known to be comfortable, period.

    If there really is an issue with women's shapes (how many women did their "study" study, and who the heck were these obese cylinders?), then try and design a "flexible chair" whose armchairs could adjust to the shape of a person. Of whatever gender and shape.

    The results of these "studies" are as spurious and stupid as the studies themselves.

  • Rupa Chaturvedi

    I don't see why women shouldn't have their own chairs - (love the lemon green color!). A chair is a very personal thing and whether it has a sex or not people don't like sitting on ones that don't belong to them. Chairs that are generally shared belong to board rooms / meeting rooms - you don't carry your own chair to a meeting room do you?

  • Cliff Kuang

    Hi Kate---Thanks for commenting. But I do think you're overgeneralizing in saying that chairs default to men's preferences. They're not--the most successful ones like the Aeron have all be designed to be unisex. I'm still a little skeptical that a chair can really have a sex—after all, it seems to me that even the Lei makes a generalization about women that might not be warranted. Surely not all of them conform to the vision that Lei's designer had in mind for them.

  • kate holvoet

    >>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?

    The problem with this comment goes far beyond an issue with design. Male preferences are seen as the universal default. There is an acceptance of women being less comfortable in designs for men, and an acknowledgment that men being less comfortable in designs for women is a deal killer. Why shouldn't every worker have ergonomic work environments, even if that means customizing the environment based on body type?