Steelcase Amia Air

Steelcase Amia Air

You’re working from home. I’m working from home. We’re all working from home. When this shit started a couple years ago, we all went out to try to upgrade our home offices. We drained the desk supply. We decimated the chair industry’s ability to keep up. And unless we wanted to wait three-to-five months for office furniture, we all just kind of got what we got. Practical or not. But, now, as the pandemic has somewhat subsided and we’re getting a better picture of our futures, some of us can’t ever see going back to an office. Not because we’re scared of getting sick. No, because we made the decision, when it looked like it would never end, to purchase the real thing. To go out and blow some bucks on an honest-to-goodness, legit office chair like the Steelcase Amia Air.

The gnarly open back is what makes it an “air”
Orange and white is a classic

In retrospect, I should have bought a larger desk, but it kind of fits my minimalist aesthetic. I like a clean desk, so if there’s only room for a monitor, laptop, mouse and keyboard then it can’t really get messy. Originally I bought a mid-century modern chair — also orange — to go with the midcentury desk and other midcentury stuff in the office. Including the shag orange rug. I didn’t like the look of your typical office chair. They’re clunky and just reminded me of being in a… well, in an office. Now, the house around all of this was built in 1912, so the style of this room isn’t necessarily consistent with the rest of the joint. Anyhow, it turns out that my need for a nice looking chair didn’t take into account that it would be pretty darned uncomfortable to sit in for more than ten minutes. And, lacking arm rests, would require me to lift my weary arms for way too long. Not to add, the lift piston started to fail a bit under the new found pandemic weight of the idiot sitting on it.

You also do research and realize that piston failures and various anomalies and ailments plague office chairs across the spectrum of the industry. But, having sat my ass in Steelcase chairs for years at work, I knew they were hardy. The reviews also said as much. They’re made for industrial settings. They are built to last. Plus, Steelcase is just a cool name. The issue is, most of the chairs I’ve used at work were either the equivalent of an orthopedic shoe, or were lighter weight, fixed-arm conference room chairs meant mainly for hour-long sits for general body types and very little more. So, I wanted something that would last for a long time, was comfortable, adjustable and actually looked cool. And I couldn’t stomach paying like a million dollars for a chair. After all, it’s a chair.

Thing is, paying retail for these things is a sucker’s bet. Especially since there have been so many canceled corporate furniture orders in the time of COVID. So, say you’re this big company and right before the pandemic hit you ordered 75 chairs for your new office space. Only to figure out a month later that you might never be coming back to the office. Steelcase can’t do anything for ya. They’re manufacturing these chairs custom to your specs, and once that happens and you cancel your order, they’re stuck with the inventory and can’t sell them as “new.” So they do whatever they do with the original purchaser and dump the inventory as “new-used” on the secondary market to authorized companies like Crandall Office Furniture. This joint will take actual used Steelcase inventory in various states of disrepair and either fix them or “refurbish” them with their own parts. Or you can get what I got, which is a brand new chair that they just can’t sell as new because it was originally meant for someone else. Like an open box sale, I guess. Thing is, you can’t really customize your exact chair if it doesn’t exist from these places the way you would in the chair builder on Steelcase’s site. So you either make concessions, or you wait until the exact thing you’re looking for rolls in. My luck, the exact setup I was looking for was in stock. And that shit is hot.

If you go on YouTube and check out all the top awesome office chairs, they all say the same thing about the same chairs. All the top picks are also, not coincidently, the most expensive. It does seem that with office chairs you do mostly get what you pay for. Mostly when it comes to build quality and durability. Sure, you could buy that Ikea or Staples chair, but most likely you’ll be buying its replacement in a year or two. And your tailbone will hate you. So in my head the $580 all in for this seat with every bell and whistle that had few-to-no reviews anywhere that I could discern was worth it. Because I’m an idiot who, yes, cares about function, but even more about form. And the Air version of this thing just looks cooler. Plus, I saved on the $800+ retail price, including tax that I would have otherwise paid to build the exact same chair on Steelcase’s site.

The Amia Air is super-solid and looks just as great as I expected. I got the hardwood floor casters, which are like off-road tires for your floor. I am not a particularly short person, but those relatively large wheels, in conjunction with the height of my desk, made it so my feet weren’t exactly flat on the ground. So I purchased this kind of insane Humanscale Rocker Foot Rest. Because, again, I’m never going back to an office, and I’m saving a shit-ton on commuting. So why not? I realize now that this is probably as comfortable as a chair is going to get for me. The seat is pretty firm, but I imagine would be just fine for a normal human being. I, however, sit on my tailbone. I just don’t have any cushion and am probably only comfortable fir long periods in like a beanbag. But the ergonomics of the thing are pretty terrific. It adjusts in all sorts of ways, but not too many. I don’t like those chairs that have 42 sticks on them and tilt and lock and do stupid shit that nobody would ever do. The best parts, honestly, are the very comfy stretch back and the great arm rests.

Anyway, it’s a chair. I like it. It’s cool looking and is built like a tank. My suggestion is to spend that money on a decent seat for yourself. Cost per use is practically nil if you’re a new WFHer like myself.