The best desk chairs

Adjustable, comfortable, design-award-winning chairs to keep you supported and comfortable as you work (or procrastinate) for hours on end

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What do you do at your desk? Whether you’re a 9-5 worker, a burning-the-midnight-oil freelancer, a hardcore hobbyist, or a gamer, chances are the following applies: you do it a lot, and you do it sitting down. Are we right or are we right? 

Okay, so that was an easy one, but what we’re really getting at is that if you spend a lot of time at your desk, no matter what it’s for, you’re going to be in need of a really good desk chair to make sure you stay happy and healthy as can be. And what luck — we’ve rounded up the best desk chairs from across the shops right here on this page.

Basically, even if you don’t suffer from back or neck pain just yet, or you’re not of a more advanced age, the official advice is to invest in a proper ergonomic office chair. But if the thought fills you with dread, don’t worry — with the design world having cottoned on to the consumer need for low-key lumbar support years ago, there are some really good-looking options out there right now. If it’s the gulp-inducing price tags that have got you down, you can approach your chair shopping one of two ways.

Basically, there are some perfectly good mid-range ergonomic chairs out on the sales floors today (mid-range being around £150-£200) that’ll hold your spine where it needs to be and offer admirable lasting power, with none-too-shabby designs, to boot. The other way to think of it is that the health of your spine is a lifelong investment, and the prices of the best ergonomic chairs, complete with clean modernist designs and even eco-friendly credentials, will reflect that.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of highly-recommended ergonomic chairs — some even award-winning! — for a range of budgets, and even one wildcard option for the die-hard mid-century modernists among you. Keep reading below for our spine-soothing selection. 

1. Herman Miller New Aeron Office Chair

The world’s best ergonomic chair

Best for: Ergonomics
Material: Plastic, aluminium, steel, foam, epoxy glass, pellicle fabric
Colour: Graphite
Dimensions: H110 x W66 x D67cm
Reasons to buy
+ Simply the best ergonomic chair + 12-year guarantee 
Reasons to avoid
- Most expensive by far 

Reviewers are positively evangelical about this chair, and it’s not difficult to see why. With adjustable arm height, seat height, recline, and seat tilt, its every facet is available for tailoring to your perfect sitting position — it even comes in three different sizes for different heights of customer! — and many users found their back pain disappeared in a matter of weeks, testament to just how important that adjustability is. We also love its innovative mesh construction intended to allow air, body heat and water vapour to pass through and avoid any uncomfortable sticky bits come summertime. It might not be quite as beautiful as the Humanscale chair below, but when it comes to offering lumbar support for everyone, it’s unbeatable. 

2. Humanscale Diffrient World Office Chair

A clean, modern chair that’s functional but not fussy

Best for: Support
Material: Plastic, mesh
Colour: White
Dimensions: H93-105.5 x W66 x D61cm
Reasons to buy
+ Flexible support+ 15-year guarantee 
Reasons to avoid
- Only comes in white 

You might think that all office chairs are created equal, but it’s immediately obvious that this Humanscale chair does things a little differently (or should we say ‘Diffriently’?) Miles apart from the thick sponge many of us will be used to from years of using a basic desk chair, this all-mesh option offers an experience that one reviewer likened to sitting on air, but the most impressive bit is the weight-sensitive recline mechanism, designed to respond to the user’s every move without the need for tricky levers. With a construction that users found flexible and easily adjustable, and what we think is one handsome, minimal design, it ticks all the boxes. 

3. Noblechairs Epic

The name says it all: a positively throne-like option for gamers

Best for: Gaming
Material: Leather
Colour: Brown
Dimensions: H141 x W56 x D56.5cm
Reasons to buy
+ Real leather gaming chair + Attractive detailing 
Reasons to avoid
- Perhaps a bit OTT for everyday use 

Workers might be the focus of most desk chair articles, but we’ve got leisure time covered too with this leather gaming chair. It’s our first pick with a headrest, and the world’s first gaming chair made of real leather, so not only can users settling in for that 10-hour Skyrim sesh really get comfortable, it’s an ideal compromise if one of you is in it for the XP, and one of you doesn’t want to compromise on design. While not as adjustable as our first two chairs, it is certified for long periods of use and features a class 4 gas lift to ensure you’re always sitting at the right height. But equally, if you don’t suffer from back pain and just want a high-quality, good-looking leather office chair, it’s good for that too — just check out that diamond stitching. 

4. Herman Miller Mirra 2 Triflex Office Chair

Responsive support, no fiddling about with levers

Best for: Design
Material: Metal, plastic, fabric
Colour: Twilight, Cappuccino or Slate
Dimensions: H111 x W68.6 x D43cm
Reasons to buy
+ Good-looking ergonomic + Flexible, eco-friendly design 
Reasons to avoid
- Not the most low-key in terms of looks

The second Herman Miller chair in our top five, the Mirra might not be as famous or quite as fully featured as its cousin the Aeron, but that also means it doesn’t come with the same flagship price tag. It’s still on the higher end of the price scale, but with good reason: it’s designed to offer an “exceptionally responsive” experience, offering active support for an uninterrupted sit that you won’t get with fussier lever-controlled chairs. And while it might seem frivolous in comparison, we can’t very well ignore the design — after all, it’s rather gorgeous. With the rare distinction of being both ergonomic and good-looking, and with a range of colours that aren’t black, it scores high on looks too. 

5. Markus Swivel Chair

A budget chair that’s built to last

Best for: Stability
Material: Polyethylene plastic, steel, epoxy/polyester powder coating, moulded eucalyptus plywood
Colour: Black
Dimensions: H129-140 x W62 x D60cm
Reasons to buy
+ Very good value + Safety casters 
Reasons to avoid
- A bit imposing 

If you’ve already blown most of your home office decorating budget on that must-have desk, don’t let the price of our first picks put you off, because there is some pocket-friendly ergonomic action on offer at IKEA. Somewhat unexpectedly for the bargain price, the Markus Swivel Chair comes with a superb 10-year guarantee, and according to reviewers, a good level of lumbar support too. The mix of mesh and padded faux leather is a nice aesthetic touch that’s also intended to allow air flow to the back, (good to know if your room runs warm) and the safety casters are a particularly thoughtful addition, meaning you won’t go flying around. All in all, a very surprising mid-range chair. 

6. Ercol Originals Butterfly Chair

The original post-war icon

Best for: Low-key design
Material: Solid beech, elm ply
Colour: Various
Dimensions: H75 x W48 x D45cm
Reasons to buy
+ Iconic mid-century design + Flexible wooden option 
Reasons to avoid
- Not ergonomic 

It might be the odd one out when you look at the rest of our list, but with its original 1950s design and pared-back charm, the Ercol Butterfly Chair more than deserves its place. Perhaps you could just drag a dining chair up to the office, if you were so inclined, but unlike most stiff, straight wooden chairs, the unique design of the butterfly chair allows the back some slight give, and the curved seat cradles the sitter, so you can properly relax into it while staying upright. For that authentic mid-century look, go for the original oak, but for funkier offices, why not consider making it an accent with a punchy hit of mandarin or chartreuse to bring things bang up to date? 

7. Scanon Padded Office Chair

Make the simple, sophisticated Scanon your go-to for a contemporary office

Best for: Sophistication
Material: Faux leather
Colour: Black
Dimensions: H116 x W65 x D65cm
Reasons to buy
+ Comfy padded design  + Generously sized seat and back 
Reasons to avoid
- Not real leather 

If you don’t need the finest ergonomic design that science can offer, but you still want an office chair that’s comfortable enough to sit in for stretches, this faux leather swivel chair may just fit the bill. Its padded seat makes it slightly closer in appearance to a racing chair than to something more corporate, so it’s a good aesthetic choice for home offices that don’t want to run the risk of looking clinical. It’s not all looks though: the backrest and seat are generously sized with curves in the right places to offer light support, and there are provisions for altering the tilt and height to ensure you’re properly set up. A handsome mid-range chair without too many bells and whistles to clutter the design.

Read more about choosing the right chair for your home office in our expert buying guides: