A Brief History of the Evolution of Office Chairs

Apr 25, 2023

We’ve all spent countless hours in them, but have you ever stopped to consider the history of the humble office chair? These office furniture items are some of the most important for keeping us comfortable during long workdays, but they haven’t always been as ergonomic as they are today. Let’s look at a brief history of the evolution of office chairs to see how they’ve changed over time.

The Origin of Office Chairs

Though individuals used basic seating prior to the invention of the first official office chair, they weren’t a marketable product until the late 18th century. These office chairs didn’t resemble modern-day chairs in any way. In fact, they were more like stools than chairs. They had wooden legs and backs and featured no padding or cushioning—just very basic hardwood. Because of this, they were sturdy and great for allowing individuals to sit and rest, but they had none of the standard comforts that we’re familiar with today.

The First Upholstered Chairs

By the 1930s, office furniture had become much more comfortable. This was largely due to the invention of upholstered chairs with cushioned seats and backs. With office work becoming more prevalent in society, these chairs provided much-needed comfort and support for people who were spending long hours at their desks. As a result, these chairs quickly became popular among business owners and employees. It was around this time that chairs started taking on a style of their own through the use of different colored and patterned fabrics.

The Modern Office Chair

But no brief history of the evolution of office chairs would be complete without discussing the state of these products today. Modern office chairs use a variety of materials, including wood, metal, plastic and fabric. Many styles now include features such as adjustable height settings, swiveling bases, armrests and lumbar support systems. All these features combine to make modern office chairs comfortable while also providing important ergonomic support for those who spend long hours seated at their desks.

As we’ve learned more about the importance of proper body alignment over the centuries, it’s become clear that these products must aid in supporting that. Premium office chair manufacturers work hard to produce the most supportive and intuitive ergonomic solutions in every new line.

Office chairs have come a long way since their humble beginnings, Rework ensures our customers have access to high quality, ergonomically sound office chairs. We carry a diverse selection of refurbished Humanscale chairs, a brand known for style and comfort to find superior solutions for all. We also provide seating from a variety of other top brands. Shop with us online to browse our deep inventory of task seating, or reach out to schedule a visit to our Chicagoland showroom to try a few out. We can’t wait to help you find your perfect seating match!