Most manufacturers claim their chairs are ergonomic, but few in the $200 to $400 range offer more than one-size-fits-all lumbar support. And as we well know, all glutei are not created equal. Finding the right fit requires that you do some sampling.
The Aeron ($1,100)
If you're searching for the best chair money can buy, Herman Miller's Aeron is the undisputed choice. It looks like some high-tech designer's idea of S&M office chic. Its appearance is deceiving.
The Aeron's mesh fabric cradles your back in a near-zero-gravity environment. The height and tilt adjust to almost anyone's dimensions, while the armrests move both horizontally and vertically. There's even an adjustable lumbar support. The only problem is that once you sit in an Aeron, you won't want to get out of it.
Coordinates: Herman Miller, 800-646-4400; http://www.hermanmiller.com
Hugger Duo-Back Synchron 7 ($1,200+)
If your chair bothers your back, check out Grahl's Hugger Duo-Back line. Duo-Backs come with a vertically split backrest that looks like a pair of buns. The dual pads lift the pressure from your lumbar area. The Duo-Back can also pivot, so when you swivel the back of the chair stays with you.
Grahl Duo-Back chairs range from the basic Xellence line to the blue-chip Synchron models ($450 to $2,000). The Synchron 7 features an adjustable neck rest as well as a seat-slide control, a knee-tilt control, and two asynchronous weight-regulation controls.
Coordinates: Grahl Industries, 888-289-4724; http://www.grahl.com
The Capisco ($889-$1,374)
Architects and engineers are often stuck at tables that make sitting a real chore. Fortunately designers from HAG have addressed these positions with a chair design that keeps you in the saddle.
HAG is the Norwegian company that brought us the Balans Vital, that backless chair few people would be caught dead in. One of its cocreators also designed the Capisco, a less-radical-looking model. The saddle-shaped seat is contoured with a hump in the middle that keeps your legs set apart and your hips open. The back support adjusts to the angle of your back; the tiny arms are designed to support your elbows and allow your arms to move freely.
Coordinates: HAG, 800-334-4839; http://www.haginc.com
Generation IV Tables ($900-$1,300)
People usually look for status when choosing a desk. But a Cadillac-sized Louis XIV escritoire isn't designed for a computer monitor, desktop phone, all the wires, and you. Get a desk built for computer work.
SIS Human Factors's Generation IV line features its most flexible freestanding models. These bilevel tables can be lowered to 23.5 inches or raised to 36.5 inches. Most people prefer that their computer monitor sit higher than their desktop — that's why Generation IV lets you adjust the table's back level from 25 to 40 inches high.
Generation IV tables also include keyboard trays, built-in cable outlets, and hollowed-out legs for hiding cables. There's just one missing item: a drawer. Add another $500 to $700 for a mobile pedestal set of desk drawers.
Coordinates: SIS Human Factor Technologies, 800-374-7438; http://www.sis-int.com
A version of this article appeared in the August/September 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.