Grab the nearest cardboard box and have a seat, we’re gonna take a look at a chair aimed at making you 17.8% more productive and your dwindling butt muscles more comfortable through those long hours of your busy computer-busting life.

Designing and Engineering, browsing and writing tend to take toll on our bipedal bodies. You’ve seen the guy hunched over the desk or leaning deformed against the armrest. Painful looking and not a good mood enhancer. There’s a reason all those people are smiling in the ergonomic chair marketing material… they’re forced beyond their will by comfort… and probably a guy off to the side slapping a mallet against his hand.

First, if you haven’t, read through the Leap Design Process I posted to see how 3D CAD, fabrication and simulation played a role in the 4 year design and engineering process. Very interesting.

17.8% more productive
You may have thought I was joking about that percentage, but take a look at this…

In a year-long study of over 200
participants, people who received the
Leap chair and office ergonomics training
achieved a 17.8% increase in productivity.

-Leap Study (PDF)

Not the largest sample, but, from what I’ve experienced, it seems a pretty fair estimation. What about a chair makes you more productive? They give their reasons in the study, but for me, the decrease in fidgeting about plus better maneuverability made getting most of my tasks done much easier. The best way to experience this is by switching back to that other chair. Not fun.

First of all the Steelcase Leap site is a great resource. You’ve got everything from 3D models (.3DS) to Interactive User Guides. If I was buying a chair based solely on the information I could get from the site, this would be it. But does the actual chair stand up to the claims and the site? Here’s what the chair offers.

8 Areas of Adjustability

Adjustable Lumbar
So nice. If you get any chair, this is a big plus. It totally has changed how I sit and actually puts my back up against the seat back instead of hunched over or leaning back.

Adjustable Arms
Pretty standard, EXCEPT you have complete up, down, in and out adjustability as well, plus rotation.

Lower Back Firmness
Hello Lower Back! With the Lumbar adjusted correctly, you have the option to adjust the firmness in that area as well.

Seat Height
Standard, but much easier to move. You have to stand for it to move up, but hey, you should be standing occasionally anyway. It’s got a nice pshhhht sound too.

Upper Back Force
This is a really nice feature of you have the Back Stop in an unlocked setting, meaning the back moves in and out. It increases the pressure, so you don’t just go flailing backwards. Love it.

Back Stop
Where most seats have two position, this has 5 position to set how far the back extends. Used with the above Upper Back Force you can really get just the right amount of lean for those afternoon stretches.

Seat Depth
In and Out baby! This allow you to move the seat to the optimal position based on the other setting. I’d adjust this last.

(Adjustable Headrest)
The seat I had didn’t have one of these, but you can imagine how much less you would drool on yourself when suddenly napping.

The Test Chair
I’m using the standard Steelcase Leap Work Chair with platinum base, no adjustable headrest. The going price for this chair is $924 from SteelCase.

Upon first glance, the look may not be the most attractive, but as far as office chairs go, it definitely has a better overall appearance about it. You don’t see the moving parts or fancy stitching. In fact, you don’t see any stitching at all. All the plastic parts fasten over the fabric parts to give a very clean look. What’s the best parts? Check it out.

The Smack

  • Adjustability. By far the most adjustable chair I’ve ever used. Each works together.
  • Firmness. The seat foam is perfect. You notice it immediately when you sit down.
  • Pressure. The flexible seat tip keeps pressure off your legs.
  • Sturdy. Some adjustments and covers wiggle if moved, but it’s a solid chair.
  • Casters. They don’t flip around like on cheaper chairs. Rolls fine against carpet.

and the worst?

The Whack

  • Ware. The plastic on the arms starts to ware a little bit. Not a big deal, but a Teflon or Delrin film could have been used here.
  • Weight. The chair is heavy. fortunately you sit in it and don’t lift it.
  • Price. I’d have trouble buying this chair. You can buy the plain standard fabric for about $850 and it shoots up to $2,700 for the WorkLounge version.
  • Tilt. With all the adjustability, I’d still add tilt.
  • Seat. The fabric seat picks up lint/particulate quite easily. A lint brush get a little, but you’ll have to pick some stuff off.

Regardless of what you sit in, there’s something to be said for ‘a good chair’ – it’s usually one of the low items on the list of company expenditures. If anything has changed my mind about having a decent chair, it’s that it’s definitely worth it. One great benefit this chair has provided besides comfort, is reduced pain in my feet. In the three months that I’ve used this, I’ve felt a ton of relief from pain I thought may have been related to being highly inactive. Even though the inactive part isn’t so good, my feet are doing better which actually make me wan to be more active.

I’m also a sit in your seat wonky kind of person. Sometimes it’s sitting on one leg, sometime kneeling. This chair prevents me from doing that so much, because it’s actually comfortable to just sit. Who woulda thought of that? Apparently, SteelCase did. The 4 years they spent developing this was well worth it, and even though I would look for better priced chairs first, I’d size it up against this one to make sure the time I spent in it was worth the cheaper price.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.