I just watched this video of Si Freedman, who says he is both an osteopath with 30 years experience and an industrial designer, making what seems to be a reasonable case for rethinking ergonomic chairs:
I liked the bit about using less materials, and solving long-term pain issues with more purposefully-designed seating sounds wonderful. Freedman has started a company called Hesed Design to realize this vision, and is attempting to launch his chair design on IndieGogo.
There's just one problem—or maybe four. About seven years ago Freedman, then using his full first name of Simon, successfully launched a similar design on Kickstarter, to the tune of £340,141 (USD $470,653 today) in pledges. This did not go well for the backers. Many reported never receiving the chairs at all, with no response from Freedman. Of the ones who did receive the chairs, many claimed they were so uncomfortable as to be unusable. Others reported that due to a manufacturing defect, the chairs would collapse, pitching the sitter forwards and onto the floor. Still others reported receiving an e-mail from Freedman warning them not to use the chairs due to said manufacturing defect—with no refund offered.
You can read through the comments yourself here. (Warning: There's nearly 900 comments, many of them pretty angry.)
At press time the IndieGogo campaign, which is under the name "Hesed Design" and doesn't have Freedman's name anywhere on the page, had $29,912 in pledges on a $69,273 goal. I'll be very curious to see how this one turns out.
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So exciting to see Si himself in the comments hahaha
Stick with Stumpf.
Benefits of ergonomic chairs depends on if its a chair that is just labelled "ergonomic" or if it is a real ergonomic chair.When ergonomics became popular manufacturers started calling any chair which they designed for working at a computer as "ergonomic", kind of like calling anything green or environmentally sustainable because they thought about the environment, but didn't really change anything because there was no real research as to what to do.Chairs that are labelled "ergonomic" range from being not ergonomic and actually harmful to somewhat beneficial or better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. For example common ergonomic chairs are mostly designed to look cool and may give you some lower back support and reduce pressure points. In the the case of mesh chairs they also dissipate heat and moisture which can be a source of discomfort. Fun fact, the Aeron chair was designed with mesh because a study had come out prior to it's design showing most discomfort and fidgeting was caused not by pressure points as much as by heat and moisture buildup. Problem is the hard frame causes a host of other problems and their are better solutions.Benefits of a real ergonomic chair include important benefits like helping prevent repetitive strain injuries, sciatica, herniated disks, headaches, reduced blood flow, etc. Real ergonomic chair designs, like the Soma Chairs pictured below, can provide these benefits because they include features clinically proven to do so, plus unexpected benefits like lower heart rate, deeper stress reducing breathing, more blood to the brain and arms, improved digestive organ function, prevent metabolic shutdown syndrome, and more. Here are a couple of examples of chairs that offer those benefits.An additional important insight from 30 years of experience is that to get the highest benefits the person often needs to be trained on how to hold their posture and muscles differently and adjust and use the chair to properly position and stabilize that more healthy posture. In other words you can have the best equipment and still not get optimal benefits if you use it wrong. So a complete ergonomic solution includes behavioral body posture and use training to get the highest amount of benefits. A tool like the Cricket Wearable Sensor is excellent for that. Ergonomic chairs can be made from craftsman router table and easily moulded into different shapes.