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The History of the Office Chair

General Comments, Industry News December 21st 2011

We seem to take the common office chair for granted these days but really when you think about it, they are actually a work of genius, well one in particular, Charles Darwin. He has been credited with being the first person to design what we now know as an office chair. This chair was not a swivel chair, but a chair that had castors attached to enable Charles to access his specimens quicker to increase the productivity of his work.

This idea was exclusive to Darwin and he did not set out to popularize the chair so the idea was kept with him until the mid-19th century and the invention of rail transport. Businesses began to expand beyond the usual model of the family business, and with that increased the administration and book keeping side of the company. More staff were hired to handle these roles and with that came an increasing need to focus more on the office environment which gave rise to a new design in the office chair. This chair was noticed by Ottomon Von Bismark, who has been credited in popularising chairs by spreading them throughout parliament.

The office chair by this point had been specifically designed so that clerical employees could stay seated at their office desk for long periods of time. The castors enabled employees to remain in their seats whilst working yet reach areas they previously wouldn’t have been able to around their work area. This enabled employees to work more efficiently and boosted productivity. Like models of office chairs they were adjustable to an extent, to help provide comfort and increase productivity also. These chairs were not ergonomic chairs though.

Ergonomics didn’t become part of the chairs design until the 1970s. The focus was more on making a chair completely adjustable as more and more people were opting to work in the office.

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