Home & Design | May 25, 2021 12:08 pm

Stuff We Swear By: This Slouch-Proof Chair Is the Workhorse Your Home Office Needs

WFH is here to stay. Make sure your home base is set for the long haul.

backstrong chair
all33

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This is Stuff We Swear By, a series in which our editors expound on an item they use (and love) on a daily (or near-daily) basis.

My favorite review for all33’s BackStrong C1 office chair belongs to “David L., USA.” A few days after placing his order, the 59-year-old got cold feet and frantically tried to cancel the order. It was too late — the chair showed up the next day, and he eyed it suspiciously for a while, before curiosity got the best of him. David, who has “sat in a LOT of business chairs over the years,” was shocked with the chair’s comfort and clever design. He now says that all33 would “have to send armed guards to get it back from me.”

It’s a familiar refrain for people who’ve sat in the Backstrong C1, which has become my office chair of choice in the WFH era. The seat is the only product currently on the market from Las Vegas-based all33, but it’s a damn good one, which approaches those workspace hazards we’re all tired of hearing about — hunched shoulders, “C-shaped” spines, tech neck — with a level of ingenuity you won’t even find from the Knolls or Herman Millers of the home and design world.

The success of the Backstrong C1 hinges (literally) on its unusual bucket seat, which allows users to actually sit back while sitting in front of the computer … if they’re so inclined. And the thing is: most of us usually are so inclined. The standards set by the most ergonomic, posture-correcting chairs out there are sound, but sitting upright against a rigid back all day long is a lot to ask. It’s why, during the WFH era, many may leave their desks during the day to work from somewhere far comfier.

According to a study released last year, 72 percent of Americans have worked from their beds at some point during quarantine. Swap in couches and the percentage is likely even higher. In moderation, these diversions are fine. But remember: slouching is self-propagating. And the more you do it, the weaker your back muscles will get, which only increases the load on all the other “passive structures” (ligaments, joint capsules, and intervertebral discs) in that region of the body.

Cue the all33, so-named for the 33 vertebrae in the human spine. When you press down on the BackStrong’s bucket seat, the front lifts up as the back dips back. (Here’s a gif of the thing in action.) Within the greater chair, it’s sort of like a pod unto itself. And you can actually rock back and and forth in it, albeit slightly. For me, the fact that the design actually encourages small incremental movements has taken the pressure and intimidation away from the ergonomics of it all. I can trust I’m not demolishing my back any time I need to fidget.

What’s happening in the chair is really the illusion of a slouch. When you lean back, the part of the body that bears the brunt of that weight isn’t the spine — it’s actually the core. Most ergonomic experts extoll the benefits of engaging the core while typing on a laptop. It’s a nice thought. But with the BackStrong it’s actually hard not to. You can’t sit back without your midsection clenching. That movement allowance, meanwhile, helps catalyze blood flow around the body. (Consider: even the most voguish workplace alternatives over recent years, like standing desks, are not ideal for circulation.)

If you’ve made it this far without getting a proper office chair, it might feel silly to bring one home now. By Labor Day, many offices will have figured out their post-pandemic expectations for employees. But with some sort of hybrid model seeming likely in most industries, it’s actually more important than ever for you to have a reliable chair at your home workspace. Don’t put your back through the stress of three days a week in a company-bought chair, then two sprawled out across the couch. On the posture front, some semblance of consistency is your best friend.

The fidget tech is really all33’s calling card at the moment, but I’m a fan of the chair for some other reasons, too. The vegan leather is handsome and cushy; the tall back is appreciated for a six-footer like me, and setup was painless. It took me about eight minutes to get the thing from box to desk. And bonus — in case you have a backyard, or live on a ground floor — the chair is outdoor-compatible. We could all use a little extra fresh air this year, and BackStrong is able to accommodate.

Head here for more info on the chair. It’s currently available in three different upholsteries, with vegan leather and a soft fabric both on hand. Don’t blink, but it’s also $400 off at the moment.